Case study: Fatty liver masquerading as indigestion
Kelly is a 34 year old lady who came to see me for help with a fatty liver. She only found out she has a fatty liver 2 weeks ago when she experienced a severe bout of indigestion. She did not normally suffer with heartburn or reflux, but suffered a bout that lasted 2 days. Kelly visited her doctor for some tests, which revealed she has a fatty liver.
Fatty liver is an extremely common condition that’s mainly seen in people who carry a bit of excess weight over their torso. Kelly was approximately 60 pounds overweight. Many people have a fatty liver and don’t realise it because it may not cause any symptoms at all, or the symptoms could be quite subtle.
In Kelly’s case, apart from the indigestion, she regularly experienced fatigue, she had a white coating on her tongue and she had a bad taste in her mouth first thing in the morning. These are all common symptoms of an unhappy liver. Kelly had been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) 8 years ago, which impaired her fertility. Therefore she used IVF to have her two children. Polycystic ovarian syndrome and fatty liver are common manifestations of insulin resistance (also known as syndrome X). Correcting the insulin resistance would help Kelly to lose weight and reverse the fatty liver.
Kelly had been frustrated with her weight for as long as she could remember. Every time she went on a diet she could lose around 6 to 8 pounds but no more than that. The weight loss was extremely slow too. She said “I just can’t stay motivated when I put so much effort in to being good but don’t get anywhere”. This is typical of people with a fatty liver and syndrome X. Unfortunately Kelly’s diet contained quite a lot of carbohydrate; definitely more carbohydrate than her body could tolerate.
Kelly didn’t eat badly; she had a typical diet that included toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and some pasta or pizza for dinner. She did eat a lot of vegetables and used olive oil on her salads. Kelly snacked on nuts and dried fruit. Unfortunately the grains and dried fruit were more carbohydrate than her body could tolerate. Three of Kelly’s family members have type 2 diabetes, therefore she certainly inherited the tendency to develop syndrome X.
- First of all I explained to Kelly the importance of including adequate protein and healthy fats in her diet, along with lots of vegetables. The protein and healthy fat would help to keep her feeling full and satisfied, thus making it easier to stick with a healthy diet. Protein and fat do not raise insulin significantly and Kelly’s problem was she had too much insulin in her bloodstream (which was preventing her from losing weight). Therefore healthy fats wouldn’t inhibit weight loss. Examples of healthy protein include poultry, eggs, seafood, red meat and whey protein powder. Good fats I asked Kelly to eat include avocados, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, pastured butter and raw nuts. The eating plan I put Kelly on is in my syndrome X book.
- I expect nearly all of my patients to be vitamin D deficient and, sure enough, Kelly was. She worked part time and spent little time outdoors in the sunshine, therefore her body wasn’t manufacturing sufficient vitamin D. This is a problem because it slows weight loss and worsens insulin resistance. I asked Kelly to take 5000 IU of vitamin D per day with breakfast or lunch.
- Kelly had a lot of stress in her life. She was working part time, while also studying and raising young children. Kelly didn’t sleep very well. She found it difficult to get to sleep because of “all the noise in my head”. She also found her sleep unrefreshing and usually felt the most tired first thing in the morning. I gave Kelly a magnesium supplement to help her feel more relaxed and to improve her sleep quality. Magnesium also helps to improve insulin resistance. It helps to improve insulin efficiency in the body, therefore helps with syndrome X and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Kelly needed a good liver tonic to help improve the health of her liver. I gave her Livatone Plus to make her liver more efficient at burning fat. Apart from helping fatty liver, the liver tonic would assist the other symptoms such as inability to lose weight, fatigue and coated tongue.
This regime has been very effective for my patients with fatty liver. I look forward to seeing Kelly for her follow up appointment in 3 weeks time to monitor her progress.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
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