What is Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
It’s exactly what it sounds like–when areas in your liver that normally have blood flowing through them, accumulate fat from the high consumption of alcohol, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, and processed/factory-made foods. Extreme rapid weight loss, smoking, as well as the frequent use of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs, can also be a factor fatty liver disease. This build-up of fat slows down the flow of nutrients to the liver and causes possible inflammation. While the fat continues to build up, the liver also reduces the speed it’s making the nutrients the body relies on it to make. When the liver doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it can’t do its job like metabolizing or processing protein, carbohydrates, or fats and detoxifying of the body’s toxins. When the liver isn’t optimally functioning, it operates like it’s being attacked and basically anything you eat will be treated as a toxin. If this progresses and the health of your liver continues to decline you may be at risk for cirrhosis of the liver.
At the core of it, the statement “you are what you eat”, couldn’t be truer here. Whether you’ve been waiting on the new year to start, now is actually the time to adopt a new eating style and start exercising regularly. For the purpose of keeping this short, let’s focus on the Mediterranean diet as the primary solution and we’ll get into how exercise helps in a later post. Not only do I find this diet to be rather tasty in its options, but it’s also been proven to improve one’s liver status, reduce fat levels, decrease insulin sensitivity and prevent NAFLD-related disease.
Check out what foods to eat plenty of and some you might consider avoiding below.
Eat Plenty of:
Beets, dandelion, globe artichokes, garlic, green tea, apples, broccoli, eggs, cabbage, walnuts, almonds, avocado, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, grapefruit, coconut, olives, brussels sprouts, fennel, onions, shallots, scallions, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, and dark colored fruits.
Hydrogenated/ processed oils Trans fats
High fructose corn syrup
Processed & refined carbohydrates and meats
Fruits with high fructose contents like bananas, pineapple, watermelon, mango
This diet is the truest champion when it comes to nutritional support for NAFLD because it requires you to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts (soak and roast raw ones at home to limit gut irritation), cage-free and hormone-free poultry, wild caught and cold water fish like salmon, cod or halibut. Whole grains are okay here, but I would focus on ditching processed foods and consume primarily earth-grown foods because the fewer toxins you consume, the less work your liver has to do. Limit your consumption of grass-fed red meat, high fructose corn syrup, alcohol and try to eat organic when you can so you’re limit. At this point, your liver is packed with saturated fats and adding healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, or fish oil will support in reducing the harmful fat in your liver.
Abenavoli, L., Greco, M., Milic, N., Accattato, F., Foti, D., Gulletta, E., & Luzza, F. (2017). Effect of Mediterranean Diet and Antioxidant Formulation in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Study. Nutrients, 9(8), 870. doi:10.3390/nu9080870
Pizzorno J., Murray M., Joiner-Bey, H. (2008). The clinician’s handbook of natural medicine. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone.
Suárez, M., Boqué, N., Del Bas, J. M., Mayneris-Perxachs, J., Arola, L., & Caimari, A. (2017). Mediterranean Diet and Multi-Ingredient-Based Interventions for the Management of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Nutrients, 9(10), 1052. doi:10.3390/nu9101052