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Case study: A fatty liver and a fatty pancreas

I am seeing an increasing number of patients at my clinic with a fatty pancreas and would like to describe one case study to you.

Shae was a 45 year old lady who came to see me for a number of reasons, but a desire to lose weight was at the top of her list. She was a type 2 diabetic, diagnosed only eight months ago. She brought along her most recent blood test results and also her sonogram (ultrasound) report of her liver and pancreas.

Shae has a fatty liver, and this is almost expected in type 2 diabetics, so I was not surprised to see it. Interestingly Shae also has a fatty pancreas. This does occur in diabetics and people with syndrome X, but it is less common.

Fatty pancreas is not something you hear about often but it is a warning sign of future health problems.

Shae is at risk of developing a severe form of type 2 diabetes that requires the use of insulin injections. She is also at risk of developing pancreatic cancer at some stage in the future. Pancreatic cancer is becoming increasingly common, and it is a notoriously difficult cancer to treat. Diabetics are at higher risk of this cancer.

Fatty liver disease is incredibly common; approximately one in five overweight individuals have one. What you may not realise is that people with a fatty liver are also likely to develop excess fatty deposits in their arteries, around their heart, within the kidneys, or inside the pancreas. Fatty accumulation inside any organ can cause oxidative damage and organ dysfunction.

Shae is a police officer. Five years ago she suffered a back injury that left her with permanent damage, leaving her unable to exercise. Her injury meant that she was stuck at her desk doing paperwork all day; thus she engaged in very little movement.

She was not very overweight; she only needed to lose approximately 20 pounds. However, all her weight sits around her abdominal area and she has high levels of visceral fat (meaning fat within her abdominal cavity, as opposed to subcutaneous fat which lies just under the skin). I explained to Shae that in order for her to lose weight, we would have to improve the health of her liver and pancreas, as well as improve her blood sugar control.

My recommendations for my patient

  • I put Shae on the eating plan in my book, “I can’t lose weight and I don’t know why”. I explained the importance of reducing her carbohydrate intake and eating protein at each meal. Fortunately Shae didn’t eat toast or breakfast cereal in the mornings, which are typically extremely high in carbohydrate and not conducive to weight loss. Working as a police officer meant working nights and odd hours; therefore Shae regularly ate leftover soup or an omelette at 8am in the morning. I went through the meal ideas and recipes in my book, helping her to choose low carbohydrate lunch and dinner options.
  • Shae admitted to eating very large meals. She knew that she ate too much and too quickly, but she didn’t feel able to reduce her portion sizes because she regularly felt very hungry. This is common in type 2 diabetics who have elevated blood insulin levels. Insulin promotes appetite. I asked her to take one Glicemic Balance capsule with each meal. This is a combination of herbs and nutrients that helps to reduce insulin levels and balance blood sugar, making it much easier to stick to a healthy eating plan.
  • I asked Shae to take Livatone Plus to help make her liver more efficient at burning fat. This, along with the diet changes should help her lose fat from her internal organs, where it is most needed. Diabetics are more prone to developing a fatty liver, and also just a sluggish poorly functioning liver. This can make weight loss more difficult and also reduce energy levels.
  • I asked Shae to look into attending a local yoga class or pilates class. Her back injury meant that she was not able to run, yet there were still many exercises she could safely perform. Yoga and pilates don’t burn as many calories as high intensity exercise, yet they greatly improve strength and muscle tone. Doing some kind of regular exercise also helps improve self esteem and motivation to stick with a healthy eating plan.
  • Shae experienced terrible cravings for sweets around 4pm each afternoon. Some days she avoided temptation, but more often than not she grabbed several cookies from the kitchen at work. I suggested she make a protein powder smoothie at that time instead. Whey protein is an excellent source of first class protein that helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied. I suggested these recipes for her.

I saw Shae three weeks ago and am due to see her in another week. Since she has not been a type 2 diabetic for long, I expect she will be able to return her blood sugar level to normal and no longer be considered a diabetic. In the majority of cases it is also possible to completely reverse a fatty liver and fatty pancreas. Fortunately Shae has taken action before it’s too late.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. 

You can read more about fatty pancreas here.