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Fatty Liver Disease

Digestion, Diabetes | May 13, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

diabetes, liver, Digestion

Fatty Liver Disease

The liver is the largest internal organ and also one of the hardest-working organs in the body. The job of the liver is to detoxify the blood, produce bile needed to digest fat, break down hormones, and to store essential vitamins and minerals. It is the liver’s responsibility to process nutrients absorbed by the intestines so they’re more efficiently absorbed. The liver also regulates blood composition to balance protein, fat and sugar. Finally, it removes toxins from the blood, and breaks down both alcohol and medications.

For people with fatty liver disease, the handling of fat by liver cells is disturbed. Increased amounts of fat are removed from the blood and produced by liver cells, and not enough is disposed of or exported by the cells.

As a result of this, fat accumulates in the liver. If this fat in the liver makes up five to ten percent of the organ’s weight, then a diagnosis of fatty liver disease will be given.

Fatty Liver DiseaseThere are two main types of fatty liver disease: 

  • alcoholic liver disease
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic liver disease is the result of drinking alcohol excessively.

This condition is in direct correlation to the amount of alcohol you drink; your blood is not able to break down the alcohol properly, and it affects your liver. This can also be a hereditary condition because genes that are passed down from your parents may increase your chances of becoming an alcoholic.

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is considered the most common liver disorder in the Western world.  It forms as a result fat building up in the liver, due in most part, to diet and or lifestyle factors. It is recognized as one of the most common forms of chronic liver disease and is among the most common forms of chronic liver disease across the globe. Fatty liver disease is most likely to happen in people who are overweight and middle-aged, but recently, due to an increase in childhood obesity, there are more and more cases of children being diagnosed with fatty liver disease as a result of an unhealthy diet. People with fatty liver disease are also likely to suffer with high cholesterol and diabetes also.

Currently non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is present in seventeen to thirty three percent of Australians. This growing percentage parallels the frequency of obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Liver Disease Symptoms

There are often no symptoms of fatty liver disease, so someone may live with the condition and not realize it.  Sometimes it can take years to experience some signs and symptoms of fatty liver. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Pain in the centre or right upper part of belly
  • Enlarged liver
  • Bloating and gas
  • Dark urine
  • Bruising easily
  • Excessive sweat
  • Constipation and or pale or dark tar-coloured stool
  • Dry and dark patches on neck and under arms
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles

Liver Cirrhosis Symptoms

If fatty liver disease has been present for a long time it may lead to cirrhosis of the liver. This is the most dangerous and life-threatening type of fatty liver disease. Over time, healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, which prevents the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs and naturally produced toxins, as well as the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver. Symptoms of cirrhosis include.

  • The build-up of fluid in the body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Internal bleeding
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Liver failure

Commonly, fatty liver disease isn’t noticed until a check-up with the doctor. There are medical tests and devices that can be used to detect the formation of non-alcoholic liver disease or a doctor may notice that a patient’s liver is larger than usual upon palpation or ultrasound. 

The disease can also be detected with a blood test, suggesting that a high number of particular enzymes show fatty liver disease is present.  

Additionally a biopsy can be performed and the sample of liver taken is tested for inflammation, signs of fat, or damaged liver cells.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease occurs when the liver has trouble breaking down fats, causing fat to build up in the liver tissue. Some possible causes of this disease include.

  • Medications
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
  • Fast weight loss
  • Malnutrition

There are a number of risk factors that may increase the chance of developing fatty liver disease.  These include the following:

Dietary recommendations for Fatty Liver Disease

Foods to Avoid

More often than not, liver disease is associated with alcoholism. However, anything that can’t be broken down and used for energy immediately ends up in the liver for detoxification and therefore a large burden is placed on the liver on a daily basis. 

Add to this an overindulgent lifestyle that may include:

  • alcohol
  • chemicals
  • drugs
  • fried foods
  • processed
  • refined foods (white flour)   
  • conventional dairy
  • white sugar
  • low quality animal products)

and the liver’s detoxification pathways begin to suffer.

Alcohol

Drinking high amounts of alcohol is one of the fastest ways to damage or destroy liver cells — and alcohol combined with prescription or over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, or a poor diet is even more harmful. If someone has fatty liver disease, and they are a heavy drinker, quitting is the most important thing to do first and foremost. Even if the diagnosis is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, it’s best to eliminate alcohol from the diet altogether.

High-Carbohydrate Foods

Dietary recommendations for Fatty Liver DiseaseFoods such as bread, rice and corn should be avoided. All white bread and carbohydrates should be eliminated or reduced from the diet and some whole grain products too.

When there is an over-consumption of too many refined carbohydrates, insulin levels spike, and insulin sensitivity is a major factor in the cause of liver disease.
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Sugary Drinks

Sports drinks, soda, energy drinks and juice are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners. This sugar that enters the body causes fatty liver disease. The average can of soda has ten to fourteen teaspoons of sugar which the human body isn’t able to break down in one sitting. Add to this all the other sugar that is consumed within any given day and the impact is has on the liver is enormous.

Studies have now confirmed that sugars, particularly fructose, can contribute to the development of fatty liver disease and its progression.  There have been substantial links between increased fructose consumption and obesity, insulin resistance  and dyslipidaemia. High fructose corn syrup found in processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver disease.

Processed Foods

Hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, convenience foods and lunch meats are known to be toxic to the system. Nitrates and nitrites, for example, are commonly found in processed foods and lunch meat, and they have been linked to fatty liver disease and more serious conditions, including cancer.

Supplements and Herbs for Liver fatty Disease

Vitamin E

Research conducted on patients with fatty liver disease suggests that lifestyle changes, along with vitamin E supplements, are helpful for people with liver damage caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant that has the ability to reduce inflammation. It also increases immunity and helps the body fight serious conditions.

Turmeric

Turmeric powder can be added to the diet in cooking, teas or smoothies or by taking a supplement daily.  Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is responsible for reducing inflammation throughout the body and also reducing cholesterol levels.  Additionally, it combats obesity and aids the liver in its detoxification pathways. One particular published study found that aspirin and ibuprofen, two of the most common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are least effective, while curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.
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Milk Thistle

Supplements and Herbs for Liver fatty DiseaseAs a liver support and aid, milk thistle is a powerful detoxifier. It helps rebuild liver cells while removing toxins from the body that are processed through the liver.

Milk thistle also has the power to improve mortality in patients with liver failure. It’s able to naturally reverse the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides in the food supply, heavy metals in the water supply, pollution in the air and even poisons.

According to one study, milk thistle benefits help treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, and toxin-induced liver diseases.
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Dandelion Root

The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help to cleanse the liver and keep it working efficiently. Dandelion also aid the digestive system by maintaining the proper flow of bile which helps to keep the liver happy.  Dandelion is a natural diuretic and allows the liver to eliminate toxins quickly. Dandelion tea and stems are also high in vitamin C, which helps with mineral absorption, reduces inflammation and prevents the development of disease.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387293/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002571/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16447287

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022024/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20041406

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540768

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15670660

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10569299

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23390127

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387293/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23567947

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16187178

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20564545

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23329465

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23543440

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15489888

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