Never heard of fatty liver disease? If so, you’re not alone. It seems the majority of people haven’t, but its prevalence has reached epidemic levels.
Fatty liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), can affect people of any age, including children. Statistics show that there are approximately four billion (yep, I said BILLION) people in the world with this condition. NAFLD raises your risk factor significantly for a host of serious health problems, and if left unchecked can literally become life threatening. It is currently the number one reason why people need to be placed on the list to receive a liver transplant.
If you are diabetic, overweight, or have eaten the standard, high carb western-type diet for any length of time, you can almost rest assured that you have at least some degree of fatty liver disease. It’s worth noting that it is possible to have a fatty liver even if you’re not overweight if your diet has been poor and lacking in sufficient amounts of important vitamins and minerals.
So What Causes A Fatty Liver?
This may come as a surprise to some people, but fatty liver disease is caused completely, 100% by a diet high in sugars (especially fructose), starches, grains, so-called “vegetable” oils (canola, corn, safflower and soybean) and non-fiber carbohydrates. Over time these foods cause your liver to become inflamed, and it starts to accumulate fat (this can happen to other organs as well, but that’s for another article).
Chronic inflammation in the liver causes scar tissue to begin developing, which can eventually lead to cirrhosis. As it begins to lose its ability to function properly, we lose our capacity to eliminate toxins from our system, including excess amounts of estrogen (any of your husbands have “man boobs”, ladies? Now you know why!) and the stress hormone cortisol.
There is also decreased bile production when liver function is impaired. Bile is responsible for breaking down both toxic wastes and dietary fats in the body so that fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, K and omega-3 fatty acids can be absorbed properly.
Can You Fix A Fatty Liver?
The good news is that not only is fatty liver disease totally preventable by following the proper diet, it’s also almost always completely REVERSIBLE! There is eventually a point-of-no-return, but if you catch it before this, you can restore your liver to good health.
Even more good news is that you don’t necessarily need to buy any pills, powders or supplements to cure fatty liver. This is especially great for those of us on a very limited budget! If you can afford them, there supplements that offer additional benefits and help speed the healing process along, but it is possible to get enough of these nutrients from real, whole foods in your diet.
Keto To The Rescue
Adopting a healthy keto way of eating, along with intermittent fasting (IF), is essential to curing fatty liver disease. IF stimulates autophagy, a recycling process through which the body eliminates dead cells and toxins. Fasting also allows our body to use up our stores of glycogen (sugar) so we can move on to burning fat for fuel. Because our bodies are smart, they will pull the fat from the areas where it is most dangerous for it to be, like on our liver, first.
This is one reason why for some people, losing inches from their midsection seems to happen so s-l-o-w-l-y. I am one of those people, so I totally get the frustration that causes! But rest assured that there are good and very important changes happening on the inside, and that eventually you will start to see the fat come off your belly too.
Two nutrients that are very important for repairing fatty liver damage are choline (a B vitamin) and methionine. These can be found in eggs (specifically the yolks), fish, liver, grass fed meats, poultry and dairy, nuts and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
If you do choose to use a choline supplement, it’s best to take it along with a complete B complex or with nutritional yeast so as not to create an imbalance.
You’ve Got This!
If you find yourself sometimes feeling impatient for more visible results (like me!), try to be gentle and kind with yourself and trust in the process. We didn’t get to where we are overnight, and we’re not going to fix it overnight. But this works. I know it. A lot of the changes are happening on the inside where we don’t see them but they are vital nonetheless. Just keep going no matter what!
Keto on, friends!