Can I Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease is one of the most common diseases affecting people all over the world and its numbers are constantly rising everywhere. The fact that this has become so common shows the unawareness and indifferent nature of humans towards the fact that an unhealthy and highly processed diet teamed up with a lack of physical activity can only cause harm and damage to the body along with further medical conditions.

The dos and don’ts of fatty liver disease as suggested by medical professionals and practitioners are mainly based on changes in diet and lifestyle. Turns out, that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of this disease.

Can I Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?
Photo by Prem Pal Singh Tanwar: https://www.pexels.com/photo/three-cocktail-drinks-602750/

Fatty liver disease is of two types:

  • Alcohol-induced
  • Non-alcoholic

Alcohol-induced

Fatty liver disease is caused due to excess consumption of alcohol. Even if consumed in large amounts for just a few days, it can still cause this disease. Liver disease probably indicates that you’re drinking too much alcohol and your liver is stressed.

The cause of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is unknown. However several contributors to this condition can be obesity, diabetes, consumption of a highly-processed diet which can cause an increased amount of fats in the blood, insulin resistance, etc.

In a systematic review published in the British publisher of medical journals, a strong link has been found between Non-Alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease. 1

Both kinds of fatty liver disease affect the body’s healthy liver cells and replace them with fat cells.

It is to be noted that rarely do any symptoms appear in any of the conditions mentioned above. But if the disease is not treated timely, it can lead to further complications in the future such as scarring of the liver which is called liver fibrosis.

Severe liver fibrosis is called cirrhosis. In extreme cases, the liver might get inflamed, and eventually one can expect complete liver failure.

There are certain symptoms that you can notice if you have cirrhosis:

  • Weight Loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Nosebleeds
  • Itchy Skin
  • Yellow Skin & Eyes
  • Web-like clusters of blood vessels under your skin
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Swelling of your legs
  • Breast enlargement in men
  • Confusion

  

The liver is a crucial organ of the body and hence requires all the care and maintenance that it can get.

It performs multiple functions within the body such as breaking down fats into fatty acids which are done by bile juice secreted by the liver, detoxifying and purifying the body by processing food and medicines thoroughly, filtering the blood that comes from the digestive tract, flushing out the toxins from the body, making proteins that are required for clotting whenever you get any cuts or bruises and aid in smooth functioning.

Coming straight up to the Dos & Don’ts:

DO’S:

  • Change In The Diet:

Several changes in the diet will have to be made to reverse the disease and make the liver healthy and fully functional again.

Consider the following changes:

  1. More leafy greens and veggies: Think about it like this. The more greens you include in your diet, the faster your liver can be cleansed. So consider loading up on veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, spinach, collards, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. All of them are rich sources of phytonutrients and essential vitamins and minerals.
  2. Eggs: One of the most favored breakfasts, eggs are full of proteins and vitamins which will aid in making the liver strong and healthy.
  3. Berries: Sweet and soulful, berries are superfoods that follow an all-benefit policy. Consider including blueberries and cranberries in breakfast or as a snack. They are full of vitamins and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the liver and the body. Hence, easing digestion.
  4. Garlic: A household staple, garlic is known for flavoring a dish with its strong and vibrant flavors. It is a rich source of allicin (which helps in muscle recovery and also fights cancer and high blood sugar), vitamins, and a compound called selenium, which acts as an antibiotic and helps in the detoxification of harmful chemicals from the body.
  5. Herbs and Nuts: Powerful and healthy herbs like ginger and turmeric have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which will cleanse the digestive tract and the liver and aid in healthy digestion. As for nuts, go for walnuts and almonds. They are a rich source of healthy fats which will provide the body with some instant energy and can also improve the situation of inflammation.
  6. Coffee: Much awaited, coffee or a beverage capable of bringing life back into us and waking us up; is liver-friendly. In fact, the liver loves coffee. This is because coffee contains polyphenols and antioxidants which provide anti-inflammatory properties. Along with this, coffee can combat cirrhosis.
  7. Omega-3 Fatty Foods: The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish. They will aid in reducing inflammation and also improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Need For Regular Exercise:

Regular exercise and maintenance of physical fitness are the second most important DO [after diet].

Lifestyle modifications and weight loss are the mainstays of the treatment.  The evidence available suggests that a loss of 3% to 5% of body weight is necessary to notice an improvement in steatosis (fatty liver disease), but a greater loss (up to 10%) is necessary to improve necroinflammation.

Besides this, excess fat or obesity is accompanied by other health risks as well. One can expect diabetes, increased heart disease risk, etc. Hence, regular exercise is very important.

DONT’S:

  • A Strict NO To Alcohol Consumption:

Alcohol consumption can worsen the condition of the already stressed liver. It might also contribute to further medical complications if you’re suffering from a chronic fatty liver disease.

  • Highly-Processed Foods:

Forget cereal, cheese, chocolate, biscuits, bread, chips, crisps, and of course, junk food.

For the liver to heal and become functional, it is super important to limit your consumption of processed foods and try a diet with the items mentioned above.

  • Refined Sugars & Trans Fats:

As the name suggests, you would have to cut down on your consumption of refined sugars which are your regular granulated sugar, and even brown sugar which is used to sweeten desserts [cakes, coffee, cookies, drinks, etc. 2

Trans fat on the other hand is the worst out of all the fats that we consume in a regular diet. They also put an increased risk on the heart, along with the liver. Some examples are margarine, shortening, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, cakes, etc.

  • Steer Away From Red Meat:

Piping hot steaks and burgers might be your favorite, but regular and constant consumption of red meat is not good for you.

It can worsen the situation of the liver, and aid in coronary heart diseases, stroke, and even diabetes.

What is the difference between NAFLD, NASH, and Liver cirrhosis?

NAFLD or nonalcoholic-fatty liver disease: If the patient only has fat and no liver damage or inflammation.

NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: If the patient has fat, liver damage, and inflammation.

Liver cirrhosis: It is caused when liver suffers through many liver disease, scar tissue starts forming and accumulating in the liver which leads to liver damage.

Progression of Liver disease
Progression of Liver disease

Can I Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?

If you are diagnosed with Nonalcoholic-fatty liver disease then following tips can help you reverse the condition or treat yourself:

Maintaing a healthy weight

Exercising regularly

Avoiding alcohol and smoking

These tips can help you lower your triglycerides and cholestrol which is one of the main reason for fat deposit on liver.

However, if you are suffering from NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis then lifestyle changes may not help you get rid of the disease.

Also, there is no medication for this deasese but there have been some cases where aerobic exercise nd lifestyle improvement have contributed to improvement in patients suffering from NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis .

NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis progresses to liver cirrhosis so it is important to work on improving your condition before its too late as liver cirrhosis can be fatal. 3

About the author

Deepanshu has a Master's in chemistry. He has worked extensively on research subjects regarding cancer and radio nuclear science and has continually reviewed nutrition science.

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