When we think of liver disease, our minds first go to alcohol and alcohol-related abuse of the liver. That’s because the liver is how impurities are removed from our blood before being recycled back into the system. But that’s not ALL it does. It might surprise you to know that the liver performs 500 different tasks in our bodies all the time. Filtering blood is just one of them. So, Fatty Liver Disease is an umbrella term used to identify liver conditions for people who don’t drink or drink very little. If you find yourself in that latter camp, let’s talk about what you can do. What are some of the Fatty Liver Remedies?
But first, to quote the Talking Heads, “how did I get here?” You’re not really going to like the answer. We don’t really know. Some of us get a fatty liver and others do not. Along the same line, we’re not sure why some fatty livers develop inflammation that leads to cirrhosis and others do not. However, there are certain things that are in common in those that do. Things, that if you’re watchful for, might prevent you from going down that path. They are:
- Being overweight/obesity (90% of cases have this symptom)
- Hyperglycemia – high levels of sugar in the bloodstream
- Insulin resistance – In which our cells don’t take in sugar like they should even when getting insulin
- High levels of fat in the blood, especially triglycerides.
Prior to testing, there are some risk factors that you can take into consideration. Do you already have Type II Diabetes? Are you overeating? Do you not get a good night’s sleep? Are you getting treatment for high cholesterol? Other factors require testing, like Metabolic syndrome, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism.
Why should you care? Well, because it’s a growing problem. Roughly 80 million people have it. Once it was very uncommon, but now it’s outpacing Hepatitis as the leading cause for liver transplant surgeries! If you could prevent a costly surgery later in life, wouldn’t you? So, here’s how:
In the broad sense, you want to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, also foods rich in fiber, like whole-grain bread. Sugar, trans fat, salt, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates are all no-nos. And, of course, no alcohol. It’s just empty calories anyway.
More specifically, some foods are better than others even within this group.
Besides being a stimulant, this beverage also appears to reduce the number of abnormal liver enzymes that can lead to health problems. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have less liver damage than their compatriots that don’t drink coffee.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, put it in warm water, twice daily and it will reduce the fat in your liver, reduce inflammation in the liver AND helps with weight loss in general. It’s a three for!
It may not have been a fan favorite as a kid, but studies have shown that broccoli lessens fatty buildup in mice in 2016. And if that doesn’t convince you, Greens, in general, are good too: Kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach.
Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help in the production of glutathione. This enzyme works to neutralize toxins in the liver. Just squeeze one lemon into water and drink 2 to 3 times a day. Do NOT just buy lemonade in the store. Those are filled with sugar!
The self-same protein in tofu that makes it an excellent replacement eating meat also helps reduce fat buildup in the liver, according to a University of Illinois study. It has the bonus of also being low in fat.
On the exotic side, papaya fruit (especially the pulp and seeds) is great for burning fat! Eating the fruit is easy, but for full effect, grind up the seeds, put in water and drink daily.
While there can be controversy over the healthiness of other breakfast foods, oatmeal is universally praised for being good for us. The carbohydrates give us energy and the high fiber helps reduce weight gain.
Don’t like fish? You should because it contains Omega-3s, which reduce fat in the liver. Another good Omega-3 source are walnuts. So, if you can’t stand one, try the other! Studies have shown that people who already have fatty livers improve with walnut consumption.
Like eggs, the avocado can get a bad rap because it’s high in fat, but it’s healthy fats. The kind we need in our systems. A study found that a diet including the avocado can reduce liver damage. And again, high in fiber, which helps with weight loss.
Instead of using butter or margarine when cooking, try olive oil instead. It’s another good source for Omega-3s. Olive oil helps lower liver enzyme levels with the added bonus of helping to lose weight, according to a recent study.
Not only will it keep vampires away, but garlic adds flavor to our foods. Worried about bad breath afterward, well there’s a supplement for that.
While not a food, another important thing you HAVE to do to have a healthy liver is exercise regularly. Being inactive is a major contributing factor to Fatty Liver Disease. It can be as simple as taking a daily walk. Running is better, but not for everyone. If you’re not used to exercising regularly, see a professional first and ease into a program that’s right for you. Regular exercise speeds up our metabolisms and releases endorphins, so we’ll look and feel better.
The danger of a fatty liver is that it can lead to what is known as NASH, which is a much more aggressive form of fatty liver that leads to inflammation than to cirrhosis, and finally, liver failure. This kind of damage is just like the kind of damage an alcoholic can do to the liver.
If you think you’re in that territory between NASH and just having a fatty liver, you should get tested and see a doctor about it.