What Is Fatty liver?
The 2nd largest organ in your body is the liver, whose function is to process all the things we eat and drink and eliminate the harmful substances. The normal functioning of the liver gets interrupted if there is too much of fat in the liver.
The presence of some fat in the liver is quite normal. However, if the fat comprises around 5-10% of the weight of the liver, then you may be suffering from fatty liver disease, which is also known as hepatic steatosis. The condition of fatty liver is reversible and with lifestyle changes, it can be resolved.
There are essentially 2 kinds of fatty liver disease – ALD or alcoholic liver disease and NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can also occur when you are pregnant.
NAFLD occurs when the liver has problems in processing the fats, which causes the fat to build-up in the liver. This occurs when the percentage of fat in the liver is more than 10%. The early stage of ALD is alcoholic fatty liver and this because of the damage caused to the liver due to heavy drinking. Avoiding alcohol for a period of around 6 weeks can cause the fats in the liver to disappear. However, continuing the drinking can lead to liver cirrhosis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Fatty liver?
There are usually no symptoms associated with fatty liver. However, you may have:
- Abdominal discomfort, fatigue
- Enlargement of liver
Excess fat can cause inflammation causing symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain, poor appetite
- Fatigue, weight loss
- Physical weakness, confusion
If the fatty liver condition worsens and leads to cirrhosis, then the symptoms include:
- Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Enlargement and fluid filling in the abdomen
- An inclination to bleed easily, confusion
What Are The Causes Of Fatty liver?
Alcoholic Liver Disease or ALD is caused due to:
- Drinking plenty of alcohol, genes passed on from parents
- Hepatitis C, obesity, too much of iron in the body
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD is caused due to:
- Usually runs in families
- Occurs in people who are overweight, obese and middle-aged
- People having diabetes and high cholesterol
Other causes are:
- Hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood), viral hepatitis
- Medications (steroids, aspirin, tamoxifen, tetracycline, etc.)
- Inherited or autoimmune liver disease
- Malnutrition, rapid weight loss
- Presence of too much bacteria in the small intestine
- Changes in the intestine
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Fatty liver?
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Control your blood sugar.
- Manage your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the number of calories from your diet.
- Increase your physical activity and follow a regular exercise routine.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids and stay hydrated for the proper functioning of the liver.
- Eat small and frequent meals to keep your liver healthy.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Fatty liver?
- Don’t have too much of iron-rich food or iron supplements as this can cause fatty liver.
- Avoid starving yourself, as malnutrition can lead to fatty liver.
- Avoid sudden weight loss, try and lose weight gradually if you are overweight.
What Are The Best Foods For Fatty liver?
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as these are healthy for the liver.
- Consume healthy complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice, etc. and proteins.
- Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and oils such as olive, corn, soybean, safflower and flaxseed oils.
- Eat foods that are low on the GI (glycemic index) such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains as they help to prevent fatty liver.
- Eat lean meats such as turkey, fish and chicken.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamin D such as cheese, yogurt, orange juice, zucchini, tomato, salmon, cod, ham, eggs, mushrooms, etc. as they help to prevent fatty liver.
- Having foods rich in vitamin E such as nuts, seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach, soybeans, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds, taro, broccoli, chard, carrots, papaya, pumpkin, etc. are good for liver health.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, sardines, salmon, walnut, olive oil, avocados, fish oil, chia seeds, etc. are good to prevent fatty liver.
What Are The Worst Foods For Fatty liver?
- Avoid simple carbs such as rice, white bread, white pasta, desserts, cakes, pastries, cookies, candy, etc. as they worsen the condition of fatty liver. Focus on high-fibre foods.
- Avoid alcohol and beverages that are high in sugar such as juices, soda, energy drinks, etc., as they aggravate the fatty liver.
- Avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats such as dark meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and fried foods such as chips, French fries, etc.
- Avoid salt and salty foods such as olives, canned foods, ready-to-eat foods, soy sauce, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Fatty liver?
What Are The Tips To Manage Fatty liver?
Some natural remedies for the condition of fatty liver are:
- Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with warm water and drink this before your meals twice a day for a few months. Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy for fatty liver as it helps in weight loss and also gets rid of the fat that is accumulated around the liver. It also helps to reduce inflammation and promotes the healthy function of the liver.
- Add the juice of half a lemon to a glass of water and drink this 2-3 times in a day for many weeks. Lemons contain vitamin C that helps to detoxify the liver.
- Adding a teaspoon of dry dandelion root to a glass of hot water and drinking it 2-3 times daily after steeping it for 5-10 minutes is very beneficial to treat fatty liver disease, as dandelion helps to metabolize the fat around the liver and helps in detoxification. You can also add dandelion leaves in your recipes. However, you must avoid the herb if you are pregnant or diabetic.
- Green tea has antioxidants that can help to reduce the fat from the liver and also improves the liver function. Drinking 3-4 cups of green tea in a day can help to treat fatty liver. You can also have it in the form of capsules or an extract.
- Turmeric contains curcumin, which is believed to prevent fatty liver and also helps in the detoxification of the liver. Mixing half a teaspoon of turmeric in hot water or milk and drinking it 1-2 times in a day can help for the condition of fatty liver.
- Liquorice root helps to decrease the activities of the enzymes AST and ALT in the case of fatty liver disease and also helps to prevent damage caused due to toxins and heavy metals. Adding ½ a teaspoon of dried liquorice root to a glass of hot water, allowing it to steep for 5-10 minutes and drinking the tea twice a day can help in the case of fatty liver disease. You can also mix a tablespoon of liquorice powder with some honey and have it once a day for a few weeks for relief.
- Both papaya seeds, as well as papaya fruit, are great for the treatment of fatty liver. You can grind around 5-6 papaya seeds and mix it with a tablespoon of lemon juice twice a day for a month or eat some papaya fruit with honey every day or include raw papaya in your recipes as a cure for fatty liver disease.