Did you know Fatty liver affects 1 in 3 of us and if you have diabetes this figure is higher again. Scarily the end result, if not addressed, can be a decompensated liver and even liver failure.
So, if you have been thinking about losing weight and getting more active but really don’t feel the need, you may wish to think again.
Many of us bury our heads in the sand and believe we are getting along fine. No aches no pains, enjoying our current way of eating, drinking and moving when we have to.
So why change? Well, today, the most common cause of chronic liver disease is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) AND….
95% of people with NAFLD do not know they have it.
I have many patients come to see me for weight loss, diabetes or healthy eating advice, and when we investigate their health further, we uncover blood markers that don’t read well.
It is such a common problem and one that I fix daily so I feel it is important for you to be aware. I have been researching some information to help you further, and in this blog I have pulled a few interesting details from medical papers which I have added in below. So let’s dive in.
What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease NAFLD?
It is a liver disease that is NOT caused by alcohol use.
Characterized by fatty infiltration of the liver.
What is the main cause of a fatty liver?
Fat builds up in the liver by eating excess calories. This excess energy is too much for the liver to process and too much fat creates insulin resistance and can lead to inflammation. Fatty liver can occur if you have other conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome.
What are the signs of a fatty liver?
There are usually NO signs of fatty liver disease in the early stages. But you may feel fatigued and have pain in the right upper quadrant (upper right part of the abdomen)- it’s usually a dull discomfort and you may wish to investigate.
How serious is a fatty liver?
Early-stage NAFLD, if sorted early enough thankfully can be reversed, and doesn’t usually cause harm. But if not treated it can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis. Having high levels of fat in your liver is also associated with an increased risk of problems such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
What is liver cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by long-term liver damage. The scar tissue prevents the liver from working properly. If cirrhosis (the most advanced stage) occurs, you can get more severe symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, or tummy (oedema) and itchy skin.
How do you fix a fatty liver?
Great news, diet and lifestyle are first and foremost the key to success.
121 Dietitian has years of experience treating fatty liver patients and would love to help you with any of the following:
- Lose weight
- Establish a healthy diet for fatty liver
- Create a personalized fatty liver meal plan
- Improve blood sugar control
- Create a personalized weight management programme
- Support your overall liver health if needing to be medicated
- Suggest foods, snacks, meals and recipes for optimum liver health
- Make recommendations for healthier food products and supplements as required
- In addition, we will recommend exercise and how to be more active
- Assist if you have diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes
- Lower your cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL. …
The bottom line recommendation: If you’re overweight or obese, the aim is to reduce the number of calories you eat each day and increase your physical activity in order to lose weight.
Easier said than done. I know it’s not for the want of trying different diets or strict boot camp style workouts- sadly if they are too tricky they don’t last. So that is where we at 121 Dietitian can help you with no quick fixes.
Interestingly, although obesity is described in 50% to 90% of patients diagnosed with NAFLD, the condition can also affect individuals with a normal weight and body mass index so if you are experiencing health issues or have a poor diet do get checked with your Doctor if you are concerned.
Can fatty liver disease be cured?
The good news is that fatty liver disease can be reversed—and even cured—if patients take action early, including a minimum 10% sustained loss in body weight and/or a change in the foods you eat.
How long does it take for fatty liver to go away?
An average period of 6 weeks to 2 months is an expected timeframe to recover from fatty liver disease. However, lifelong adherence to particular diet and lifestyle changes may be necessary to prevent relapse.
What foods are good for fatty liver?
Foods That Help Fatty Liver Disease include but are not limited to….
- Fish and seafood.
- Vegetables and fruit.
- Whole grains.
- Olive oil.
What are Liver superfoods?
There are no superfoods as such, but fortunately hundreds of fabulous everyday foods that when combined in correct amounts and consumed regularly can provide you with the best macro and micronutrient intake for a healthy liver and life.
What medication can I take for Fatty Liver?
There are no direct medicines for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Losing weight, eating healthily, and regular exercise can help. If you have elevated lipids, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure with lifestyle changes you may be able to reduce some of the medication you take.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the main way of managing NAFLD.
For example, it can help to:
- lose weight – losing more than 10% of your weight can remove some fat from the liver
- eat a healthy diet – try to have a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, protein, and healthy carbohydrates, but low in pro-inflammatory fats, sugar, and processed salt; eating smaller portions of food can help, too
- exercise regularly – aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week; all types of exercise can help improve NAFLD, even if you do not lose weight
- stop smoking – if you smoke, stopping can help reduce your risk of problems such as heart attacks and strokes
- NAFLD is not caused by alcohol, but drinking may make it worse. It’s therefore advisable to cut down or stop drinking alcohol.
- And finally my favourite subject – fixing gut bacteria can also play a positive role in assisting liver health.
If any of this resonates with you do get in touch – and as mentioned above:
Interesting Liver Research in recent years
Coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis so the end stage of liver disease and with regards to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Several studies have shown that coffee consumption can positively impact on the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease The recommendation is at least three cups of coffee per day are consumed to actually improve outcomes with regard to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10991-7
Vitamin E – from an article entitled “Effect of the Mediterranean diet and antioxidant formulation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” This randomized study was on vitamin e alpha-tocopherol.
We know in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease there is oxidative stress and inflammation, so antioxidants are very important. Antioxidants scavenge for free radicals including reactive oxygen species. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and it’s been demonstrated to have beneficial effects in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease including reduced hepatic oxidative stress damage reduced Liver inflammation and reduced hepatic fibrosis. (Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):870. doi: 10.3390/nu9080870. Effect of Mediterranean Diet and Antioxidant Formulation in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Study)
Vitamin D – the paper entitled “Vitamin D supplementation and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease present and future” The vitamin D selected was calcitriol. There has been an association found between vitamin d deficiency and a higher incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is known that when vitamin D levels go down the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease goes up, and particularly the degree of steatosis or the degree of fatty infiltration of the liver. However, this evidence has been controversial some findings don’t support this. (Nutrients. 2017 Sep 14;9(9):1015. doi: 10.3390/nu9091015)
Did I Miss Anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you: If you are unsure of how to change your eating habits or need help optimising the foods you eat please do contact us.
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For further medical information on Fatty liver please click this link to the NHS A-Z website
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