Here’s the deal… When the cells in the liver accumulate abnormal amounts of fat, a condition known as fatty liver syndrome results.
Very often, this condition is associated with alcoholism; however, it is possible to develop fatty liver syndrome even in the absence of consumption of alcohol. This condition is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD).
NFLD results when metabolism of fat within the liver is thrown off kilter. One of the main functions of the liver is the distribution of fat throughout the body.
The liver filters fat from the blood and distributes it to the body for use as energy or for storage. In NFLD this process is disturbed and the accumulated fat stays within the liver.
There are two types of NFLD. One is isolated fatty liver (IFL). The other is steatohepatitis. In both of these conditions, abnormal amounts of fat accumulate in the liver; however, with steatohepatitis inflammation is also present.
This causes damage to liver cells and the development of scar tissue on the liver. This can lead to very serious liver disease (i.e. cirrhosis).
It is important to understand and be vigilant against NFLD because it is a very common condition and symptoms can be subtle or seemingly non-existent.
People suffering from this condition are more prone to liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, stroke and heart disease.
Because the consequences of untreated liver disease can be so dire, everyone should be on the lookout for symptoms which might indicate its presence.
Among them are hypertension, unexplained fatigue, swelling of the legs (caused by edema) and easy bruising.
Additionally, if you tend to bleed excessively from minor cuts and scratches, this may be an indication of NFLD. Other symptoms include mental changes caused by encephalopathy. Left untreated, NFLD can eventually lead to liver cancer.
What Causes NFLD?
Obesity is one of the main causes of this liver condition. Additionally, if you have diabetes you are at far greater risk of developing NFLD.
Fortunately, maintaining a healthy weight and the development of good health habits can go far toward preventing liver problems. When you cultivate a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise, you are engaging in the most promising treatments for this condition.
Adopt a Healthy Whole Foods Diet
You really are what you eat! There are many dire health conditions you can reverse and/or completely avoid by adopting a healthy whole foods diet.
This type of diet should consist of at least half fresh fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains and/or other fiber sources and one quarter high quality protein sources. Here are some general guidelines:
- Be sure to include omega-3 fatty acids found in olive oil, coconut oil, fish oils, fatty fish, tofu, walnuts and flaxseed.
- Eat super foods which detoxify your body and repair your liver. Good examples include beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and kale.
- Eat foods that are rich in fiber (e.g. fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains).
- Be sure to eat more veggies than fruits as fruit tends to contain higher amounts of sugar.
- Be careful not to over cook foods as doing so reduces their nutritional and fiber value.
- Shun processed foods, white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
- Avoid fried foods and other foods that are high in saturated fats.
- Follow your doctor’s advice to control your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Do not drink alcohol.
Exercise Every Day
Participating in half an hour of physical activity daily can greatly increase your overall good health. It especially helps with NFLD because exercising helps keep your weight down and improves blood circulation. Additionally exercise stimulates your metabolism and helps your liver to function properly.
If you are very out of shape and/or overweight now you should not start out with an extremely strenuous exercise program. You may wish to begin with walking, swimming, water aerobics and other light and enjoyable forms of exercise.
It’s a good idea to consult your doctor to select the form of exercise that is appropriate for your current level of fitness.
When selecting a form of exercise to enhance your health and your life you should choose an activity that you enjoy. This will ensure that you continue exercising on a regular, ongoing basis. For this reason, recreational sports and activities are preferable to punitive workouts.
As you increase in health and ability, you can go from walking to jogging to running. You can transition from light water aerobics to energetic aerobic classes. You can take up dance and enjoy cycling and/or playing a sport.
Add Natural Tonics To Your Daily Routine
In addition to developing smart lifestyle habits, there are many home remedies you can use to help reduce and prevent NFLD. Here are nine of the top habits you can add to your daily routine for better liver health.
#1 – Enjoy Herbal Teas
A number of common herbal teas can be easily added to the diet to help keep your liver clean and functioning at optimum levels. Here is a brief list of herbal teas that you can pick up quickly and easily online or at your local health food store:
- Parsley Root
- Milk Thistle
- Red Clover
There are many others, but these are some of the most common hepatic herbs that can be found easily and affordably as single ingredient teas or combined in tasty blends. Enjoying these teas on a regular basis can help keep your liver humming along as it should.
Adding herbal teas to your daily habits is a win-win in every way. Enjoying a cup of herbal tea gives you a pleasant, stress reducing repast and benefits your overall good health.
Regular use of herbal teas helps eliminate toxins in your body, aids digestion and can even increase energy levels and help guard against inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and arthritis.
#2 – Alkalize Your System With Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV is an excellent tonic for your overall good health, and it is especially good for preventing and combating fatty liver disease. A daily dose of ACV supports good liver health by dissolving fat accumulations and reducing inflammation in the liver.
Furthermore, adding ACV to your daily routine helps promote weight loss. For full benefits, add a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered ACV to glass of warm water and drink it down before each meal.
This practice will help boost your metabolism and detoxify your liver. You can use this remedy on a regular ongoing basis without worry.
#3 – Lemon Provides Important Vitamins And Enzymes
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which supports your liver in producing the enzyme glutathione. This enzyme is important in neutralizing toxins within the liver.
Additionally, according to a study published by the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology Journal in 2014, naringenin (a compound found in lemon juice) helps to ease inflammation of the liver.
To add lemon juice to your daily routine, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a glass of water and drink it down two or three times a day.
For greater convenience, you might wish to make a jug of unsweetened “lemonade” by simply chopping up several lemons and infusing them in a jar of water in your refrigerator. You can simply strain the water into a glass to drink down on a regular basis.
It’s worth noting that a combination of ACV and lemon juice in water is quite tasty. You might find it convenient to do your lemon juice and ACV treatment all at the same time before each meal.
Additionally, keep in mind that all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and are especially beneficial to the liver. This is especially true of grapefruit.
#4 – Add Dandelions To Your Daily Diet
We’ve already mentioned that dandelion tea can be excellent for your liver health, but you may not realize that you can also eat dandelions. They are tasty, nourishing and extremely helpful in detoxifying your liver and helping it metabolize fat properly.
The Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal published a study in 2013 that reported that dandelion leaf extract is quite effective in preventing and treating NFLD. To enjoy dandelions in your daily diet, be sure to enjoy a cup of dandelion tea several times a week.
Instead of removing dandelions from your yard cultivate them! Gather the fresh tender leaves to add to your salads or cook as you would spinach or other greens.
It is important to note that dandelion is not desirable for women who are pregnant or for people who suffer from diabetes.
#5 – Drink Green Tea
The International Journal of Molecular Medicine published a study in 2013 that indicated that the high density of catechins found in green tea can provide powerful support for proper fat infiltration and liver function in patients who suffer from NFLD.
It does this by blocking the amount of fat that is stored in the liver and improving the function of the liver. As an added bonus, when you drink green tea regularly it provides support for your weight loss efforts.
For best results, you should drink quite a bit of green tea. In fact three or four cups daily is recommended. To make this easier, you might wish to make a pitcher of green iced tea to keep in your refrigerator and drink on a regular basis.
Remember that you can flavor green tea with lemon juice for added flavor and benefits. You might also wish to experiment with herbal/green tea blends for more flavor variety and health benefits.
If you don’t want to drink green tea, you can purchase it as a supplement in capsules or as a concentrated liquid.
#6 – Spice Up Your Life With Turmeric
China Pharmaceuticals Journal published a study in 2008 which reported that turmeric (in addition to its many and varied health benefits) is quite helpful in treating fatty liver disease.
Turmeric is a simple, affordable, readily available kitchen spice that is filled with antioxidants and helps your body to digest fats properly. Turmeric provides excellent liver detoxification benefits.
The simplest and most enjoyable way to add turmeric to your diet is to start using it in your kitchen. It is an excellent, mild overall spice that can be added to rice, oatmeal, eggs, soups, stews, salads and any other dish your taste buds and imagination desire.
To add turmeric to your diet easily and affordably, simply keep the shaker on your table and experiment with this interesting and healthful taste sensation.
If you like spicy foods, purchase a good curry mix and enjoy curry dishes several times a week. Turmeric is the main spice in curry mixes, and the other spices that are included in curry are also excellent for your overall good health.
You can also add turmeric to your diet with some specific health oriented concoctions. For example, you might mix a quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of water, boil it and drink it down warm a couple of times a day for two weeks.
You can also make a nice bedtime toddy by mixing a half a teaspoon of turmeric into a glass of warm milk.
If none of these ideas appeal to you, you can also purchase turmeric in capsules as a supplement.
#7 – Enjoy Pure Licorice Root
The Phytotherapy Research Journal published a study in 2012 that indicated that licorice root extract is very helpful in maintaining proper enzyme balance in the liver.
Specifically, this herb decreases transaminase activities of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) enzymes and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) enzymes which are abundantly present and active in patients suffering from NFLD.
Additionally, licorice root extract can help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins and heavy metals.
To reap the benefits of licorice root extract, you can enjoy a cup of licorice root tea as often as two times daily. You can either purchase a prepared herbal tea or steep a half a teaspoon of dried licorice root in a cup of hot water (covered) for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you don’t like the taste of licorice root tea, you can make a syrup by combining two teaspoons of honey and a tablespoon of licorice root powder. Take this concoction twice daily for a few weeks.
It is important to note that if you are taking corticosteroid medications or any type of medication for hypertension or diabetes, you should talk with your doctor before adding licorice supplements to your diet.
#8 – Fresh Papaya Is Delicious And Healthful
Papaya is a delicious fruit to enjoy on its own. In Ayurvedic medicine, papaya fruit and seeds are considered to be very effective in treating NFLD.
Papaya contains enzymes that help to burn dietary fats quickly and efficiently, so consuming papaya on a regular basis can help to prevent the development of fatty liver disease.
When you eat fresh papaya, be sure to save the seeds. Allow them to dry and then grind them up and mix them with fresh lemon juice. (5 or 6 seeds +1 tablespoon of lemon juice). Dose yourself with this concoction a couple of times a day for a month.
On an ongoing basis, enjoy at least one slice of fresh papaya every day. Add fresh local honey if you wish. You can enliven your diet and increase your food knowledge by researching exotic recipes such as raw papaya soup and papaya salads.
#9 – Make Your Diet Even More Exotic With Indian Gooseberry
Indian Gooseberry (amla) is an interesting and exotic addition to your diet. It is also a very effective remedy for NFLD. This berry has very high levels of vitamin C, which as we have discussed helps to keep your liver functioning properly.
Additionally, Indian Gooseberry helps rid your liver of harmful toxins and reduces high blood cholesterol levels and hypertension. It can also provide good support for people suffering from diabetes.
Amla is tasty to eat raw as a fruit every day. Additionally, the fruits can be used in cooking and in salads. If this does not appeal to you or you do not have access to fresh Indian Gooseberry.
You can purchase it as a powder which can be mixed with water or juice and drunk down a couple of times daily. One teaspoon per eight ounces of liquid is the proper dosage.
Create A Healthy Lifestyle That Suits You
The most important aspect of creating a healthy lifestyle is consistency. Replacing damaging habits with healthy, life giving habits takes time, patience and persistence. The key to success lies in selecting and cultivating habits you will enjoy and stick with.
Take your time and be kind to yourself. Don’t force yourself to do things you hate. Instead, choose from the many choices listed here to select healthy liver support practices that will be easy and enjoyable for you.
For example, some people like to take supplements or mix up unusual tonics (e,g, licorice root and honey, powdered turmeric and water) to dose themselves and get on with their day.
Others prefer to naturally add healthy herbs, spices and foods to the diet on a regular basis. Some like to do both. Select the method that suits you best so that you will be more likely to stick with your new habits.
It’s easy to see that there are many steps you can take to ensure good liver health. You needn’t feel that you must take all of these steps at once.
In fact, it is wiser to select a couple of changes that will be easy for you and incorporate those changes into your daily routine over a period of two weeks. Once you have established one or two new habits, add a couple more.
Gradually move away from injurious habits (such as eating junk food and drinking sodas) and create new, smart habits to take their place.
Remember that you did not develop your current habits overnight, and you will not replace them successfully overnight. Focus on making mindful choices throughout each day to build a healthy new lifestyle that will benefit your liver and your general health and well-being.