The importance of balanced diet in health maintenance cannot be overemphasized. It is the key item in the prevention and treatment of fatty liver disease.
Consumption of alcohol and excess fat leads to accumulation of excessive fatty acids in the liver which is the cause of fatty liver disease, therefore, a low fat diet and alcohol restriction will be beneficial in reversing the progress of this condition.
Here are several important points to consider when choosing an ideal diet for preventing and treating fatty liver disease:
- Diet must be high in fiber and protein instead of carb and fat.
- Fruits and green vegetables must make up a larger part of your diet every day.
- Alcohol must be eliminated from your diet, yes, no matter how difficult it may seem to avoid alcohol it must be done.
- Replace alcohol with water. Drink over 2000ml of water daily to aid detoxification and flushing out of toxins from the system.
- Consume fish and lean meat instead of red meat and pork.
If you are not sure about how to go about your diet and ensuring the right food gets into your body, it might be best to consult a dietician who can help you plan your diet and monitor your progress. Meanwhile, a recommended sample diet plan below can help you start out on the right note.
Start your day with food high in fiber to keep you full for a longer time. Low fat milk (skimmed) or yoghurt should be used in place of full cream milk.
Keep fruits handy and grab them when you have the craving for cookies and fried snacks. It may be unpleasant at first but with time you will enjoy the treat.
Eat smaller portion of meal 5-6 times a day instead of heavy meals.
Several ailments have been linked to the inability of the liver to perform its function at an optimal capacity due to overloading or accumulation of toxins in the body. Ancient Chinese and Indians have used several herbs which are still in use today for the purpose of cleansing the liver.
Basically, all body system mechanism depends directly and indirectly on the activities of the liver which include:
- Storage and metabolism of fat
- Synthesis of hormone
- Excretion of waste products
- Detoxification of harmful substances
- Protein synthesis
- Storage and metabolism of carbohydrate
- Production of bile
- Synthesis of enzymes
When the liver is overloaded with toxins it slows down the metabolic process and other bodily function which can make the individual feel unwell. For this reason, medical experts recommend routine detoxification of the liver.
Many factors contribute to the accumulation of toxins and other harmful substances in the liver, some of these are:
- Indiscriminate drug use
- Severe illness
- Consumption of junk food
- Exposure to harmful chemicals such as Lead and Mercury
- Consumption of alcohol
- Hormone therapy
- Excessive breakdown of blood cells
How to detoxify the liver
A balanced diet is necessary for liver Detox. This diet should be high in fiber, fruits and vegetable, but low in cholesterol and processed sugar.
Fasting and consumption of larger quantity of clear water are also very effective detoxifying agents. They provide the liver adequate time for recovery and flush out toxins respectively.
Herbs to the rescue!
Some special natural plants have been used over the years for liver cleansing; some of the most popular herbs include:
- Dandelion root
Ayurvedic system originated from Indian thousands of years ago and has since spread to many other parts of the world. It was used for the prevention and treatment of various ailments even before the introduction of orthodox medicines. It is an alternative medicine involving the use of herbs and various lifestyle modifications for the prevention and treatment of ailments.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the organs in the human body are categorized into elements (dosas) which are Vata, Pitta and Kapha depending on its function. These elements must work in harmony to maintain equilibrium for an individual to be healthy. A defect in any of these three elements will cause malfunction in the others.
The liver being an organ of metabolism is considered as a pitta (fire) which burns out impurities from the body; when it is overloaded it causes the body to become unhealthy and the individual will feel sick. It offers several remedies for cleansing the liver and maintaining its integrity.
Ayurvedia employs diet, lifestyle change, and use of designated herbs for preventing and treating fatty liver disease. It encourages the consumption of diet that will improve liver function and elimination or restriction of foods that aggravates the condition such as spicy and oily foods.
Special herbal solutions are prepared with a blend of natural plants such as:
- Chicory seed
- Aloe Vera
- Embelia root
There herbs are believed to be potent in detoxification of the liver and improving its function effectively.
It is always advised to consult a physician before embarking on this treatment as there are various concerns about alternative medicines.
There are primarily two types of fatty liver disease. This classification is majorly dependent on the causative factors.
1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease
Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) is a disorder of the liver associated with consumption of alcohol and it is the major contributing factor to development of liver disease in developed countries. It often leads to more severe complications if alcohol consumption is not curbed.
Alcohol poses a major threat to the liver than any other agent because the liver has to detoxify over 70% of alcohol ingested into the body each time. During this process there is formation and accumulation of triglycerides and toxins which overloads the liver within a short time. There is usually inflammation of the cells after the accumulation of triglycerides and toxins which any attempt at healing will result is fibrosis and scarring of the hepatocytes which can progress to cirrhosis if not checked.
2. Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
This is the most common liver disease found in people who do not consume alcohol. There is a growing concern about the increasing prevalence of this disorder which results when there are excessive fatty acids in the liver, thus hampering the normal function of this important organ. The major causes of this disease are:
- Diabetes (insulin resistance)
- Impaired fat metabolism
- Reye’s Syndrome in children
- Hormone therapy
When the formation of triglycerides is high due to excessive fat intake and processes that induce production of this substance, most of it get accumulated in the liver causing much damage. The changes in the liver caused by these agents are not totally different from alcoholic fatty liver disease only that the onset may be slower and complications may be milder.