Fatty Liver: Natural Tips to Restore Liver Health

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You might think that a fatty liver is something that only heavy drinkers or fans of fried food have to worry about. However, conditions like fatty liver are becoming increasingly common among people who don’t drink much alcohol at all. In fact, fatty liver affects up to 25 to 30 percent of us.  And its effects can be far-reaching.

Hepatic Steatosis

Let’s start with an important distinction. It is true that alcoholics are more prone to fatty liver, or hepatic steatosis. When a problem drinker has too much fat in their liver, it’s also called alcoholic fatty liver disease. In non-alcoholics this condition is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

 

What exactly is a fatty liver?

A healthy liver typically has 5-10% fat content.  When the fat content goes over 10% the liver is considered “fatty”.  In general, extra fat is not too problematic, but at times, it can lead to an intense increase in inflammation in the liver, changing NAFLD to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).  When the liver is inflamed it can, over time, usually decades, develop scar tissue—known as fibrosis—and then develop nodules of dead tissue (cirrhosis).  The liver can also develop cancer, and fail completely, requiring a liver transplant.  In fact, death from liver failure is the 12th most common cause of death in the U.S.

Of course, for most of us, the consequences of a fatty liver aren’t as severe. However, a fatty liver can take a big toll on your overall well being and energy levels.

 

How does Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Develop?

NAFLD is, frankly, a condition most associated with those who are overweight or obese.  When there is too much fat in the body, particularly in the abdominal area, it will much easier go to the liver in excess and be stored there.  The higher your BMI, the higher the percentage you will likely have a fatty liver.

What causes a person to become overweight or obese:

  1. Over-eating, eating too many carbohydrates,
  2. Lack of exercise
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea
  4. Environmental toxins
  5. Hormonal Imbalances
  6. Nutrient deficiencies
  7. Abdominal excess fat

It is not difficult to diagnose NAFLD and NASH.   Fatty liver is diagnosed through regular labs: generally, elevated ferritin or GGT is seen first.  If NASH is occurring, elevated liver enzymes will usually be seen.   An abdominal ultrasound of the liver will show increased “echogenicity” in the liver, a medical term used show the liver is too fatty.

There are no real symptoms of fatty liver, outside of signs and symptoms associated with a person who is overweight or obese.  That may include fatigue, achiness, shortness of breath with exercise, food cravings, and poor sleep.

 

Treating Fatty Liver

Weight Loss

Studies have found that the most effective way to treat fatty liver is to lose weight. Even a small amount of weight loss can help reduce inflammation, improve fat metabolism and improve liver function.

 

Healthy Nutrition

A whole-foods, low-carb approach to dropping extra pounds is often effective. Strategies that have been found to help liver health include:

  • Consuming lots of fiber to improve elimination
  • Drinking antioxidant green tea
  • Choosing healthy monounsaturated fats, which are found in foods such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts
  • Adding plenty of nutritious and anti-inflammatory green vegetables such as broccoli
  • Choosing fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines

At the same time, you should limit:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Conventionally grown red meat and poultry
  • Refined white carbs such as white bread and white rice

 

Exercise

In addition, exercise can help lower the levels of fat in your liver. Interestingly, the benefits of exercise happen even if weight loss isn’t the end result.

Low-intensity cardio, high-intensity interval training, and strength training have all been proven to be effective. The most important thing is to be consistent with the activities you enjoy.

 

Get checked for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

If you have sleep problems, snore, or someone informs you that you stop breathing during sleep, and/or you are very tired during the day, you should get tested for OSA.  Fixing OSA with a CPAP or BiPAP machine, dental appliance, Provent therapy or Inspire can have a significant effect on your ability to control food cravings better and start losing weight.  OSA is associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease so it needs to be diagnosed and treated.

Things to avoid:

  1. Environmental chemicals: don’t use typical chemicals for pesticides and herbicides around your home. NEVER buy any product that has a fragrance in it; those are some of the worst toxins made. Use natural cleaners.   Buy organic foods.
  2. Alcohol: If you have NAFLD or NASH, alcohol is devastating to your weakened liver and can cause significant damage.
  3. Other over the counter and prescription drugs: Try to reduce more negative impact on your liver by avoiding as many other things that need to be detoxed through it: caffeine, Tylenol, other medications.

 

Supplements to Support Liver Metabolism

Several supplements show promise in treating fatty liver, including milk thistle, Alpha lipoic acid, NAC, green tea extract, cordyceps, berberine, dandelion, etc. Discuss these with your Naturopathic Doctor to make sure that they are right for you.

Your liver is amazingly resilient, in fact, it is the only visceral organ in your body that is able to regenerate. A full liver can regenerate from as little as 25% of the original liver! Taking action to protect the health of your liver will help to protect your energy levels and prevent more serious health problems down the road.

If you have been diagnosed with Fatty Liver Disease or If would like to go over the lifestyle changes that can help prevent liver damage, Give us a call we can help.

 

Sources

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23273500

https://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v23/i36/6571.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163009/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27581063

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18317656

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120422162417.htm

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26865652

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24764677

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22213436

https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-015-0383-6

 

 

 

 

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