Author: Renu Puri
In this blog, we will be discussing what fatty liver is, how you can reverse fatty liver condition, its types, causes, symptoms, and the implications of a weight loss diet on someone who suffers from fatty liver disease. We will also be debunking some myths and stereotypes pertaining to the disease and some guaranteed ways to prevent this condition from occurring.
The aim of the blog is for you to have a better understanding of fatty liver disease and everything it entails to help reduce your risk of developing this potentially dangerous condition.
Most people are well aware of the benefits associated with living a healthy life but still make bad decisions to indulge in unhealthy habits. We get it – it’s completely human to give in to temptations – be it by the thought of Happy hours at a bar or the excitement to order a calorie-heavy meal from your favorite food delivery app. The actual problem occurs when this becomes a daily thing. In summer, whenever we feel hot, instead of relishing a chilled glass of water, we prefer gulping down a bottle of coca cola to quench our thirst. We make this a pattern without realizing that even a small bottle of coca cola is filled with sugar and artificial flavoring that is harmful to us when consumed in large quantities.
With such lifestyles engulfing individuals of all age groups in all parts of the world, fatty liver disease is at its peak in today’s time. The worst part about the disease is that it slowly creeps in, takes its own sweet time to build up over time, doesn’t exude any concerning symptoms, and then reaches a dangerous level that could lead to other fatal diseases. There is a huge stigma surrounding the fatty liver disease that it only affects people who drink alcohol. This is not true, in fact, there are two types of fatty liver diseases – Alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
This brings us to a client story of a 45-year-old man Amir, who came to us about 1 year back with a fatty liver diagnosis. Amir came through a referral and was indeed shaken up by his diagnostics. He, like many others, was under the impression that you can only have a fatty liver if you drink alcohol. Being a devout Muslim, Amir had never even had a sip of alcohol. So when he came to us, he had thousands of questions in his mind. Starting from how he had a fatty liver despite never having alcohol to questions like “is it reversible?”, “Would I live to see my son’s wedding?” , “Do I have to be on medications for life?”.
Many people wonder, why do we have this kind of self-realization only after a medical diagnosis? If we could have taken better care of ourselves and our health from the early on, this wouldn’t have been a situation we’d have to ever face.
Needless to say, we educated Amir on his condition and prescribed him a diet in accordance with his body type, genetics, busy schedule, activity levels, and even his tastebuds! Yes, you heard it right. We believe that a diet should never feel like a compromise, but rather a lifestyle that you can sustain, and that is why we recommend mouth-watering foods and recipes that will take care of any cravings and make you feel like you never left delicious food.
Fatty liver is an excess build-up of fat in the liver that can cause damage to the liver cells and may gradually progress into a condition that results in liver failure. Fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a spectrum of a wide range of liver diseases. In simple and easy to understand lingo, your liver can take up to 15% of additional fat without any problem but when it exceeds the 15% mark and starts accumulating in the organ, it leads to a fatty liver. Although it is not life-threatening, it can lead to a lot of complications if left untreated for long. There are two types of fatty livers :
a) Simple fatty liver wherein your liver does store in excess but has little to no inflammation or damage to liver cells or lining. Simple fatty liver does not have adverse implications that cause permanent liver damage or life-threatening complications.
b) Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis wherein you have a fatty liver along with high levels of inflammation and liver cell damage. Inflammation and liver cell damage can cause fibrosis, or scarring, of the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis may also lead to cirrhosis or cancer.
The worst part about having a fatty liver is that most often, you experience no symptoms at all. The symptoms you may experience would feel like ordinary fatigue that one experiences after a hectic day at work. A lot of clients that come to us often blame their innate lethargy for lack of physical activity or discipline in their lives when in reality, most of them are battling a fatty liver disease without even having an inkling about it.
A lot of times, patients may also feel weakness along with nausea that wouldn’t go away no matter what they did. However, if the disease has progressed beyond a limit, then your body may exhibit symptoms of liver cirrhosis such as low appetite, yellow skin, excess bruising, itching, and chronic fatigue.
We always advise clients who feel constant fatigue to get their liver medically evaluated to rule out the fatty liver condition. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Yes, Alcoholic fatty liver can be successfully reversed and treated if it is at an early stage. Non-alcoholic fatty liver does not need any medication to reverse, good nutrition therapy and dietary modifications can successfully reverse the condition and prevent the progression of advanced liver disease.
To fight off this unwanted condition, we suggest eating a diet that is rich in fiber and low in saturated fats, amping up your protein intake and limiting carbohydrates from your diet would also help with reversal. The ultimate treatment for any type of fatty liver is reliant on the cause of the disease. If treated and diagnosed timely, it will result in the effective reversal of the Hepatic steatosis process.
Healthy weight loss is oftentimes one of the only proven ways for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver who have pure steatosis with no signs of inflammation to reverse the condition. Medications may help to a certain extent but if you don’t fix the root cause of the condition, it will not show any positive results in the long haul.
Our registered dietitians have curated a list of foods to eat to boost liver health and prevent a fatty liver so you can live the healthiest, and most fulfilling life possible and avoid any sort of disease progression or complication :
It is said that a moderate protein intake is optimum for patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, due to the positive impact on weight loss and insulin sensitivity. Lean proteins provide optimum protein that are relatively lower in fats and calories. Consuming lean proteins like white-fleshed fish, plain Greek yogurt, beans, peas, lentils, skinless white meat poultry, low-fat cottage cheese, etc. can really help boost your liver health.
Fruits and Vegetables can help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as they are high in fiber and antioxidants. This is the perfect combination for helping manage the metabolic and inflammatory issues associated with the condition. Some nutrients found in green leafy vegetables like Spinach and Broccoli can help fight off the disease.
Whole grains are composed of loads of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, and are great for people looking to reverse their fatty liver disease. Swapping your dietary habits from refined grains to whole grains can show great results in preventing fatty liver diseases and related comorbidities.
Did you know that adding those sour, tangy, and flavourful spices can have a great effect on your liver? In fact, Ayurveda recommends certain herbs and spices to help reverse your fatty liver condition. Ginseng/Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Garlic, Ginger, and Triphala are spices and herbs that have great anti-inflammatory properties that can help reverse your fatty liver disease.
People tend to shy away from fats without knowing that fats can actually be good for you. No, not the kinds you usually like to indulge in but the kinds that are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados, olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts), and seeds are extremely beneficial for your liver health and can shield you not just from fatty liver disease but from a lot of complications as well.
If you’re suffering from a non-alcoholic fatty liver, chances are that you may not be aware of it. The sole reason for that is that many patients don’t exude any kind of symptoms and can live with it for many years without knowing they have it. However, about 30% of patients eventually develop inflamed liver or scarring and 20% of the patients' inflamed liver would eventually progress into end-stage cirrhosis which is a leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer.
Now that we know that Fatty Liver is a condition that is very much reversible if diagnosed timely, let us find out what measures we can take to ensure a speedy reversal.
From our experience in the health and nutrition sector, the best and most efficient way to treat a fatty liver is by making lifestyle changes and dietary modifications. You can’t expect to eat Mcdonalds' every other day, jog for an hour and expect the condition to cure itself. You have to put in the hard work to see the results. It is essential to eliminate saturated fats, processed foods, and unhealthy elements from your diet and replace them with high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. A balanced diet is vital for good liver health.
People often equate the words “Weight loss diet” to an ancient Greek punishment. Search for “dietitians near me” on google all you want, but if you have a mindset of a “diet” translating to some form of torture or restriction, you will never find it sustainable. Diets don’t have to feel like diets. Just because your favourite celebrity is consuming Kale and Broccoli in their diet does not mean that you have to do that too. You can have chicken, mushrooms, paneer, and potatoes and still lose weight. If you suffer from fatty liver disease, it is essential to lose weight at your own pace. Don’t be mistaken, fad diets would do completely the opposite and may cause even more complications. A registered dietitian can evaluate your body type, family history, busy schedule, and activity levels to create a custom weight loss dieting plan for you that is safe, sustainable, and effective.
In some cases, people like to go the extra mile and seek alternative treatments along with losing weight and fixing their diets. While there is no scientific evidence claiming that it necessarily works for fatty liver, some people strongly advocate for these methods. These treatments can be in the forms of massage therapy, herbal or ayurvedic supplements, or acupuncture. We believe the best thing to do is to seek professional guidance, be it in the form of medical assistance or through a certified nutritionist as they are the right people to guide you towards a sustainable treatment.
You need a healthy and functioning liver to battle toxins and harmful chemicals that enter your body. A healthy liver ensures that your body can fight off such infections and diseases and maintain plenty of energy throughout the day for tasks. If you have got your fatty liver disease diagnostics or feel that you may have the condition, do not worry. With professional guidance and support, you can revive your liver back to health.
Looking for some diets for a fatty liver reversal? Our registered dietitians can help! We educate you on nutrition at every step and curate diet charts that include food options that can provide you with the maximum nutritional value so your liver can get all the love it needs.
Ready for a health revolution? Join us on our mission to transform the nutrition landscape!
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