Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is when fat builds up in the liver of people who dont drink a lot of alcohol.
If you have excess fat in your liver and no history of heavy alcohol use, you may receive a diagnosis of NAFLD. If theres no inflammation or other complications, the condition is known as simple NAFLD.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of NAFLD. Its when buildup of excess fat in the liver is accompanied by inflammation. Your doctor may diagnose NASH if:
- you have excess fat in your liver
- your liver is inflamed
- you have no history of heavy alcohol use
When left untreated, NASH can cause liver fibrosis. In severe cases, this can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Fatty Liver Diet Ratios
Professional opinions on the ideal ratio of produce, carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein for preventing or reversing a fatty liver differ greatly. Some nutritionists advocate an emphasis on lean protein and fresh vegetables while others believe that whole grains should get the largest ratio allocation.
Most healthcare providers agree that high levels of protein are best for liver health, unless the person has advanced liver disease. Individuals with cirrhosis might be advised to restrict their protein levels to prevent an accumulation of ammonia in the blood. As such, those with advanced disease should consult with their healthcare provider for the ratios that would suit them best.
Overall, the fatty liver diet describes a healthy eating plan that can help almost everyone in numerous ways. Specific to fatty liver, by following the fatty liver diet, you will avoid foods that promote liver fat and eat foods that negate liver fat, both of which will help you shed excess weight, stabilize blood sugar levels and restore healthy blood fat proportions. By following the fatty liver diet guidelines described herein, your risk of fatty liver disease will diminish, and you will feel energized and healthier.
About the Author
, Diet for Fatty Liver, Erin Coleman, RD, LD, Retrieved May 7, 2016, LovetoKnow Corp., 2016.
Drink Raw Vegetable Juices
Raw juices are an excellent source of highly concentrated vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Your juice should be comprised of 80 to 100 percent vegetables, with the remainder comprised of fruit. Do not drink fruit juice it is too high in carbohydrate and calories. Our book Raw Juices can Save your Life contains numerous raw juice recipes.
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How Can A Dietitian Help Patients With Fatty Liver Disease
A key role the dietitian plays is individualizing the nutrition plan for each patient. Every patient is unique and everyone has different needs.
Adapting to a Mediterranean diet is hard for patients because we are surrounded by convenience foods and junk on a daily basis. This diet is focused. It is important for patients to be able to sit down and learn about the benefits of the recommended diet and ask questions. Then they can set realistic and attainable goals with a nutrition expert, rather than something that sets them up to fail.
Saturated Fat As Part Of A Healthy Diet
Theres no question that foods high in saturated fat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
Coconut products, including unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut oil, grass-fed whole milk yogurt, and grass-fed meat are just some examples of highly nutritious foods concentrated in saturated fat that may positively affect health.
For example, reviews of research have shown that full fat dairy intake has a neutral or protective effect on heart disease risk, while coconut oil intake has been shown to boost HDL cholesterol and may benefit weight loss (
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What To Eat On The Fatty Liver Diet
In general, the less sweet and less processed food is the better chance of it being a part of the fatty liver diet. Although there is not sufficient evidence yet, preliminary studies have found that fatty liver patients respond well to the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fresh produce, nuts, olive oil, poultry and fish. The fatty liver diet advocates consumption of the following:
Beans And Soy To Reduce The Risk Of Nafld
Both beans and soy have shown promise when it comes to reducing the risk of NAFLD.
A scientific overview of diet and liver disease points out that legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and peas are not only nutritionally dense foods, but also contain resistant starches that help improve gut health. Consumption of legumes may even help lower blood glucose and triglycerides in individuals living with obesity. In addition, a 2019 study found diets rich in legumes specifically helped lower the likelihood of NFALD.
A few studies have also found that eating soy may help protect the liver, most likely because soy contains a high content of the protein -conglycinin noted for its ability to help lower triglyceride levels and possibly protect against visceral fat buildup.
Additionally, tofu is a low-fat food that serves as a good source of protein, making it an ideal choice if youre trying to limit your fat consumption.
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Healthy Body Weights For Children
The best tool to decide if your childs body weight is in the healthy range is to plot your childs weight and body mass index on growth curves. A healthy body weight is when your childs weight or BMI falls between the third percentile and the 95th percentile. If your childs BMI is above the 95th percentile then your child is obese. If your childs BMI is between the 85th percentile and 95th percentile, they may be overweight.
It is important to follow the trend of where your child is tracking on the growth curve and not just one point in time. Remember your child is growing and so you should expect that your childs BMI will change with time.
BMI is calculated exactly like adults. Your childs weight divided by your childs height squared.
Recognizing the difference between physical activity and exercise is the first step to living a lifestyle filled with more movement! While exercise is something best done with a moderate to high intensity and a structured routine, the goal of physical activity is do anything you can that gets you moving and can be physically demanding. It is important to . Here are some tips to decrease your time spent in sedentary activity and become more active!
Remember: Make sure you and your loved one stay hydrated, even during physical activities. Carrying a water bottle during any physical activity is recommended.
Sleep and Your Overall Health
Acute Fatty Liver Of Pregnancy
Acute fatty liver of pregnancy is when excess fat builds up in the liver during pregnancy. Its a rare but serious pregnancy complication. The exact cause is unknown, although genetics may be a reason.
When AFLP develops, it usually appears in the third trimester of pregnancy. If left untreated, it poses serious health risks to the mother and baby.
If your doctor diagnoses AFLP, they will want to deliver your baby as soon as possible. You might need to receive follow-up care for several days after you give birth.
Your liver health will likely return to normal within a few weeks of giving birth.
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The Most Effective Fatty Liver Treatment: Lifestyle Changes
The good news is that the most effective treatment so far for fatty liver disease does not involve medications, but rather lifestyle changes. The bad news is that these are typically hard to achieve and maintain for many people. Heres what we know helps:
- Lose weight. Weight loss of roughly 5% of your body weight might be enough to improve abnormal liver tests and decrease the fat in the liver. Losing between 7% and 10% of body weight seems to decrease the amount of inflammation and injury to liver cells, and it may even reverse some of the damage of fibrosis. Target a gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, as very rapid weight loss may worsen inflammation and fibrosis. You may want to explore the option of weight loss surgery with your doctor, if you arent making any headway with weight loss and your health is suffering.
- It appears that aerobic exercisealso leads to decreased fat in the liver, and with vigorous intensity, possibly also decreased inflammation independent of weight loss.
- Eat well. Some studies suggest that the may also decrease the fat in the liver. This nutrition plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, replacing butter with olive or canola oil, limiting red meat, and eating more fish and lean poultry.
- Drink coffee, maybe? Some studies showed that patients with NAFLD who drank coffee had a decreased risk in fibrosis. However, take into consideration the downsides of regular caffeine intake.
Image: magicmine/Getty Images
How Can I Improve My Liver Health
According to the American Liver Foundation, there are no medical treatments yet for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So that means that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the best ways to both prevent liver damage from starting or reverse liver disease once its in the early stages. We know people dont want to feel like theyre on a diet, so we work really hard with our patients to help them focus on lifestyle changes instead, which includes a healthy diet, exercise and getting a lot of quality sleep.
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Who Should Follow A Fatty Liver Diet
Anyone with a fatty liver is urged to follow the fatty liver diet but, the truth is, many more undiagnosed people would benefit. The following list indicates what increases a persons susceptibility to fat accumulation in the liver and these individuals will dramatically improve their health by adhering to the fatty liver diet.
Why The Type Of Fatty Liver Disease Matters
Distinguishing between simple fatty liver and NASH is important. Why? Because for most people, having simple fatty liver doesnt cause sickness related to the liver, whereas those with NASH have and injury to their liver cells. This increases the risk of progression to more serious conditions like fibrosis of the liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. NASH cirrhosis is expected to be the number one reason for liver transplant within the next year. Luckily, most people with NAFLD have simple fatty liver and not NASH it is estimated that 3% to 7% of the US population has NASH.
It takes a liver biopsy to know if a person has simple fatty liver or NASH. But the possible complications and cost of a liver biopsy make this impractical to do for everyone with NAFLD.
Scientists are trying to find noninvasive ways to identify who is at the greatest risk for fibrosis, and thus who should go on to have a liver biopsy. Possible approaches include biomarkers and scoring systems based on blood tests , as well as elastography .
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Eat More Vegetables Protein And The Right Fats
Raw vegetables and fruits are the most powerful liver healing foods. These raw foods help to cleanse and repair the liver filter, so that it can trap and remove more fat and toxins from the bloodstream. Eat an abundance of vegetables . Fruit is healthy for most people, but if you have high blood sugar or insulin resistance, it’s best to limit fruit to 2 servings per day. Protein is important because it helps to keep the blood sugar level stable, helps with weight loss from the abdomen and reduces hunger and cravings. Protein should be consumed with each meal. Good sources of protein include eggs, poultry, seafood, meat, nuts, seeds, whey protein powder, legumes and dairy products.
Most vegetable oil and margarines can worsen a fatty liver. Healthy fats to include more of in your diet are found in olive oil, oily fish, flaxseeds, coconut oil and raw nuts and seeds.
Additional Ways To Treat Fatty Liver Disease
In addition to modifying your diet, here are a few other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your liver health:
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Greens To Prevent Fat Buildup
Compounds found in spinach and other leafy greens may help fight fatty liver disease.
A 2021 study found that eating spinach specifically lowered the risk of NAFLD, possibly due to the nitrate and distinct polyphenols found in the leafy green. Interestingly enough, the study focused on raw spinach, as cooked spinach did not have the same strong results. This could be because cooking spinach may result in lowered polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity.
What Could Happen To People With Nash
Currently, the long-term outlook of people with NASH is not well understood. In most cases, NASH seems to be a slowly progressive disease. However, there is a small proportion of NASH patients whose cirrhosis will become more severe, possibly leading to liver cancer or liver failure. In chronic liver failure, a liver transplant may be needed.
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Fibrosis Tests And Scores
It is very important that the amount of scarring in your liver is tested as part of your NAFLD diagnosis. This is the main sign of how advanced your liver disease is.
Fibrosis is the medical term for scarring. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more fibrosis there is and the more severe it is.
There are 2 main ways to check if youre likely to have advanced fibrosis without doing a biopsy blood tests or a liver scan .
Many doctors use a scoring system that pools results from several routine blood tests. Common fibrosis scoring systems include:
- The Fibrosis -4 score which uses 3 blood tests and your age
- The NAFLD Fibrosis Score which uses 4 blood tests and information about your age, weight and whether you have diabetes
- The Enhanced Liver Fibrosis test which uses a combination of 3 blood tests.
The score doesnt say exactly how much scarring there is in your liver. Your doctor or nurse will interpret the result to decide what to do.
There are 3 possible results:A low risk means advanced fibrosis can be safely ruled out.
This means you dont have later stage NAFLD including cirrhosis. Your GP will continue to manage your care. They should do a fibrosis test every 3 years to check your condition hasnt got worse.
Indeterminate risk means it doesnt say for sure whether you have advanced fibrosis or not.
You should be offered further tests to find out. These could include scans or a liver biopsy.
Top 4 Causes Of Fatty Liver Disease
Based on the four conditions that increase fatty liver disease susceptibility just described, there are few individuals who wouldnt benefit from the fatty liver diet. Because fat accumulates in the liver with little to no symptoms, its never too early to begin a preventative-eating plan.
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Are There Any Medications That Help Clean A Fatty Liver
Researchers havent identified any medications that help clean a fatty liver. Some medications, such as vitamin E supplementation, may help lower inflammation. But these medications can have unwanted side effects that may outweigh the benefits. Based on current research, lifestyle changes are more helpful than medications.
Your liver is responsible for breaking down many medications. Taking too much medication can be toxic to your liver and worsen your condition. Review all medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, with a doctor to be sure you arent overworking your liver.