I write about fatty liver disease very often – how prevalent it is, how it makes weight loss much more difficult, and how it increases the risk of several serious diseases. Approximately one in five people in the Western world has a fatty liver; how would you know if you’re one of them?
Some people with a fatty liver get unpleasant symptoms like fatigue, abdominal bloating and indigestion, however most people get no symptoms at all. If you carry excess weight over your abdomen, you probably have some degree of fatty liver. Fat doesn’t just sit on the outside; it actually creeps into your internal organs, including your liver.
The most common symptoms of fatty liver disease
• You will probably be overweight, especially in the abdominal area
• You will find it very hard to lose weight
• You may have elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood
• You may have Syndrome X (metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance)
• You may have diabetes type 2
• You will be very tired
• You may have problems with your immune system
Diagnosis of fatty liver
1. Liver function tests
The liver enzymes are often raised and this is usually discovered during a routine blood test. The liver enzymes known as AST and ALT are typically raised above normal levels, and this signifies inflammation and damage to liver cells as a result of fat build up. Usually ALT levels are raised more than AST. For a thorough explanation of liver function tests click here.
2. Ultrasound scan of the abdomen
An ultrasound scan reveals the size, shape and texture of the liver. A fatty liver has an abnormal texture. It is also often enlarged – the enlargement is usually only slight and is a result of the liver cells being swollen with fat. The medical term for an enlarged liver is hepatomegaly.
An ultrasound can show streaks of fat, and sometimes fatty cysts building up in the liver. It can also detect the presence of other liver diseases such as liver tumors.
3. Liver biopsy
This is a very accurate way of diagnosing the severity of fatty liver disease. However, a biopsy has risks and potential complications, so it is usually not necessary.
Luckily fatty liver is reversible. Here are 5 ways to achieve this:
1. Eat less carbohydrate
Poor diet is the leading cause of fatty liver disease. The biggest offenders are sugar and foods made of white flour; they need to be avoided completely. However, a high intake of carbohydrate rich foods in general can promote fatty liver, as the liver converts excess carbohydrate into fat. Foods that need to be restricted include bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, potatoes and any food made of flour. See our syndrome X book or Diabetes Type 2 – You can Reverse it Naturally for a low carbohydrate eating plan.
2. Drink less alcohol
Excess alcohol consumption is the second biggest cause of fatty liver. Alcohol can cause inflammation and damage to liver cells, resulting in fatty infiltration. People with a fatty liver should limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day, with at least two alcohol free days per week.
3. Eat more vegetables, protein and the right fats
Raw vegetables and fruits are the most powerful liver healing foods. These raw foods help to cleanse and repair the liver filter, so that it can trap and remove more fat and toxins from the bloodstream. Eat an abundance of vegetables (cooked and raw salads). Fruit is healthy for most people, but if you have high blood sugar or insulin resistance, it’s best to limit fruit to 2 servings per day. Protein is important because it helps to keep the blood sugar level stable, helps with weight loss from the abdomen and reduces hunger and cravings. Protein should be consumed with each meal. Good sources of protein include eggs, poultry, seafood, meat, nuts, seeds, whey protein powder, legumes and dairy products.
Most vegetable oil and margarines can worsen a fatty liver. Healthy fats to include more of in your diet are found in olive oil, oily fish, flaxseeds, coconut oil and raw nuts and seeds.
4. Drink raw vegetable juices
Raw juices are an excellent source of highly concentrated vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Your juice should be comprised of 80 to 100 percent vegetables, with the remainder comprised of fruit. Do not drink fruit juice; it is too high in carbohydrate and calories. Our book Raw Juices can Save your Life contains numerous raw juice recipes.
5. Take a good liver tonic
Choose a liver tonic that combines the clinically proven dose of St Mary’s thistle with B group vitamins, antioxidants and sulfur rich amino acids. A good liver tonic can promote repair of damaged liver cells and facilitate the fat burning and detoxification abilities of the liver. Livatone Plus contains all of those ingredients and is available in powder or capsule form.
Extra tip: Increase glutathione production
Glutathione is your liver’s most powerful detoxifier and it is strongly anti-inflammatory. If you have a fatty liver you need more of it. N-acetyl cysteine is a precursor of glutathione and is known to raise blood levels powerfully. Eating sulfur rich foods also helps with glutathione; examples include eggs, cabbage, broccoli and garlic.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.