Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

7 Ways to Heal a Fatty Liver

Food

"My doctor says I have a fatty liver and I should stay away from fat," writes this week's house call. "Are high-fat foods the culprit here? Any tips to help with a fatty liver?"

Indeed, your doctor is right to feel concern: Fatty liver is a dangerous yet misunderstood disease. In America, it affects 90 million of us and 17 percent of our children.

Think about foie gras, the French delicacy made from duck or goose liver. It is made by force-feeding the animals a combination of sugar with corn and starch (a really sad, horrible practice), intentionally creating a fatty liver.

Photo credit: Pexels

So if you're gorging on sugar and starch, you're essentially doing the same thing with your own liver. Fatty liver literally means your liver fills with fat, paving the path for chronic disease and inflammation.

You might be surprised to learn the primary culprit here. Research shows that carbs (and not fat) produce more fat in your belly and liver.

Sugar switches on fat production in your liver, creating an internal process called lipogenesis, which is your body's normal response to sugar.

Fructose, the most detrimental sugar that heads directly to your liver, actually ramps up lipogenesis. That explains why sugar, especially fructose, becomes the chief cause of liver disease and the leading cause of liver transplants.

What's so bad about having a fatty liver? Well, among its numerous repercussions include inflammation, which triggers insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, meaning your body deposits fat in your liver and organs including your belly (called visceral fat).

It gets worse. Excess sugar and starch creates more serious problems including high triglycerides, low HDL (“good" cholesterol) and high amounts of small LDL (dangerous cholesterol particles that cause heart attacks). Fatty liver also increases your heart attack risk.

Sadly, most people have no idea they have a fatty liver. Today we're even seeing 12-year-old boys with fatty livers because they guzzled soda for years and now need liver transplants. Fructose, the primary sweetener in sodas, is a key player in the ever-increasing rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

We're feeding children fructose and other highly toxic substances, setting the dismal stage for liver transplants, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and abnormal cholesterol. Doctors then prescribe numerous medications to alleviate these and other issues. Overall, it becomes a bleak picture.

I mentioned earlier sugar, not fat, creates fatty liver. Here's where it gets interesting: Dietary fat actually turns offthe fat production factory in your liver.

You see, unlike carbohydrates and protein, dietary fat does not trigger your pancreas to secrete insulin or stress out your liver. Your body prefers to burn rather than store dietary fat, unless you combine it with carbs. When you eat the right fats, you increase your metabolism, stimulate fat burning and decrease hunger.

One of my favorite fats is medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, either in coconut oil or as a stand-alone oil.

To prevent or reverse fatty liver, you'll want to cut processed carbs and increase healthy fat intake, especially saturated—yes, saturated—fats from healthy foods like coconut and grass-fed beef.

I realize all of this might sound confusing. After all, our government tells us to limit saturated fats to 7 to 10 percent of our calories even with the updated dietary guidelines (which science doesn't support, by the way). We've demonized saturated fat for so long that we've missed the purple elephant in the room: sugar.

Thankfully, newer guidelines tell us to limit sugar intake, however, they don't go far enough. These guidelines should be fine-tuned to include whole grains, which also break down into sugar in your body. According to current guidelines, you're still supposed to get one-quarter of your calories from sugar to be healthy. Crazy, right?

I discuss how fat can benefit your liver and many other dietary fat issues in Eat Fat, Get Thin, but the take-home message here is that healthy saturated fats lower inflammation when you eat them as part of a low-carb, high-fiber, omega 3 fatty acid-rich diet.

So how do you know if you have a fatty liver? If you eat lots of sugar and flour, have a little bit of belly fat or if you crave carbs, you probably have a fatty liver. To heal that fatty liver and avoid its vast detrimental repercussions, you want to get to the root of those problems.

Blood tests and an ultrasound can both detect fatty liver. If your blood test comes back abnormal, you must take it seriously. Even if your test comes back normal, don't think you're off the hook. A liver function test doesn't always detect a fatty liver. An ultrasound is more sensitive.

Fortunately, you can employ some simple but powerfully effective strategies to reverse or prevent fatty liver. I've found these diet, exercise and supplement strategies greatly benefit my patients.

1. Eliminate all high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Even when it comes in so-called healthy foods like salad dressings, don't eat it. To put things into perspective, one serving of commercially made tomato sauce can have more fructose than a serving of Oreo sandwich cookies!

2. Get rid of white, processed flour and eliminate or greatly reduce starch. Even whole grain flours can be a problem. They increase your blood sugar levels, stressing your liver and resulting in high triglycerides, which promotes a fatty liver.

3. Add healthy fats. Functional Medicine becomes so simple: To heal the body, you remove the bad stuff and add in the good stuff. Incorporate anti-inflammatory, liver-healing foods like low-sugar fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean animal protein like chicken and fish and good, healthy fats like olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and fish oil. A great way to combat sugar damage is to eat plenty of these healthy fats. You can get a powerful 21-day plan to easily incorporate healthy fats in Eat Fat, Get Thin.

4. Improve your metabolism through exercise. Routine, daily exercise improves insulin resistance and reduces fatty liver. Start out with something simple like walking 30 minutes. More seasoned exercisers might incorporate high-intensity interval training (or burst training) and weight lifting.

5. Supplement intelligently. The right supplements can help bring your body back into balance while it heals. Herbs like milk thistle are great for supporting the liver. I also use nutrients like lipoic acid and N-acetyl-cysteine, which make powerful antioxidants to heal and rejuvenate your liver while increasing the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Other liver-healing nutrients include B vitamins and magnesium. You can find these and other quality supplements in my store.

6. Eat detoxifying, liver-repairing super foods. Regularly eat foods from the cruciferous family—like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, as well as leafy veggies like kale, collards, cabbage, arugula and watercress. At least a cup or two every day can help repair and heal the liver. Garlic and onions are amazing sulfur-rich foods that help detox the body. You'll find amazing recipes and more ways to incorporate these amazing foods in The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet.

7. Power up with protein. Protein at every meal, especially breakfast, becomes key to balancing blood sugar and insulin, cutting cravings and providing your liver the raw materials it needs to detoxify optimally. Start the day with farm fresh eggs or a protein shake. I recommend my Whole Food Protein Shake. Include nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat for protein at every meal. A serving size is four to six ounces or about the size of your palm.

You need a healthy liver to combat toxic junk and chemicals in your environment. A healthy liver means your body stays healthy, you don't get sick and you maintain plenty of energy.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Ways Eating Processed Foods Messes with Your Body

11 Unexpected Health Benefits of Drinking Your Morning Joe

6 Alternatives to Milk: Which Is the Healthiest?

Are Oats and Oatmeal Gluten-Free?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less
Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less
A mostly empty 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles, California on April 28, 2020. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shelter in place orders that brought clean skies to some of the world's most polluted cities and saw greenhouse gas emissions plummet were just a temporary relief that provided an illusory benefit to the long-term consequences of the climate crisis. According to new research, the COVID-19 lockdowns will have a "neglible" impact on global warming, as Newshub in New Zealand reported.

Read More Show Less
Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

Read More Show Less
Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. NPS

By Joe Roman and Taylor Ricketts

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is the deepest and longest period of malaise in a dozen years. Our colleagues at the University of Vermont have concluded this by analyzing posts on Twitter. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studies 50 million tweets a day, scoring the "happiness" of people's words to monitor the national mood. That mood today is at its lowest point since 2008 when they started this project.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The ubiquity of guns and bullets poses environmental risks. Contaminants in bullets include lead, copper, zinc, antimony and mercury. gorancakmazovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less