Fatty liver diet: Foods to eat and avoid

By Dr. Sachin Singh | 8th Dec 2021

Fatty liver diet: Foods to eat and avoid

The liver is the body’s second-largest organ. The function of the liver is to produce bile, which aids in the elimination of waste and the breakdown of fats in the small intestine during digestion. It produces proteins for blood plasma. Produces cholesterol and unique proteins that aid in the transport of fats throughout the body. A healthy liver contains a small number of fats which is essential for the body but when the fat accumulation takes place due to improper diet or habits it leads to fatty liver. Thus further we will see the fatty liver diet essential to maintain the desired quantity of fats in the liver for proper and healthy functioning of the body.

What is the reason for fat accumulation in the liver?

The accumulation of fats in the liver leads to the occurrence of fatty liver diseases. Another name for fatty liver is Hepatic steatosis. It occurs when the liver becomes clogged with fat. Small levels of fat in the liver are acceptable, but too much can be harmful to your health. The majority of the time, fatty liver has no symptoms. However, it can make you fatigued or cause dull pain in the right upper area of your stomach or all over it.

Factors that lead to fatty liver diseases include

  • Fat accumulates in the liver as a result of high fatty calorie consumption. Too much fat accumulation in the liver does not process and break down fats as it should. 
  • People with certain illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, or high triglycerides, are more likely to develop fatty liver. NAFLD(non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is a major cause in people with such illnesses.
  • Alcohol consumption can also affect the liver.

Thus to overcome these factors to prevent fatty liver diseases, consideration of a fatty liver diet is very important.

Why is the fatty liver disease diet required?

Healthy bodies have functioning livers that remove toxins and produce bile, a protein that breaks down fats into fatty acids for digestion. Although fatty liver disease damages the liver and prevents it from working normally, lifestyle changes can help limit its progression.

The lifestyle modification should primarily include protein-rich food in the fatty liver diet.

NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is one of the most common causes of liver disease.  It is a disorder in which excess fat is deposited in the liver and, if left untreated, can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. NAFLD is more common in persons who have specific diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes — yet, unlike alcohol-related liver disease, NAFLD is not caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

In general, the fatty liver diet contains the following foods:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Plants high in fibre, such as legumes and whole grains
  • Limiting your consumption of certain foods and beverages, such as those high in added sugar, salt, processed carbs, and saturated fat.
  • No alcoholic beverages- In many situations, fatty liver disease can be reversed by making lifestyle changes such as restricting alcohol intake, including fatty liver disease diet, and losing weight. These modifications may assist to prevent further liver injury and scarring. It’s very vital for those with AFLD to completely avoid alcohol.

The amount of weight you should reduce to cure NAFLD(Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is determined by how much excess body fat you have and how much fat intake must be done through the fatty liver diet. For patients with NAFLD, the fatty liver diet should include a nutrient-dense, whole-food-based diet high in fibre, protein, and unsaturated fats are often recommended.

How to reduce fatty liver?

Fatty liver disease may need avoiding some meals or consuming them in moderation. Weight gain and an increase in blood sugar are common side effects of eating these foods.

To reduce the fat, here are 7 food items to add to your fatty liver diet for its good health:

1. Coffee can aid in the reduction of abnormal liver enzymes-

Drinking coffee daily may help protect your liver against NAFLD. Regular consumption of coffee lowers the chance of acquiring the disease as well as lowers the risk of progression in those who have already been diagnosed.

2. Greens to prevent fat accumulation

Spinach and other leafy greens may aid in the treatment of fatty liver disease. According to Trusted Source, Eating spinach especially reduces the incidence of fat accumulation, probably due to the nitrate and unique polyphenols found in the leafy green.

Eating them raw rather than boiling them is more helpful so that the nutrients are not lost through evaporation.

3. Sunflower seeds are high in antioxidants

Sunflower seeds are particularly high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that is frequently utilised in the treatment of NAFLD (through supplementation).  While most research on NAFLD and vitamin E focuses on supplements, a 100-gram dose of sunflower seeds contains approximately 20 milligrammes of vitamin E, which is more than 100% of the Daily Recommended Value.

4. Soy and beans to lower the risk

When it comes to lowering the risk, both beans and soy have shown potential. A fatty liver diet that includes legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and peas are not only nutritionally packed meals but also includes starches that assist to enhance liver health.

Tofu being rich in proteins is also an excellent choice in cutting down fats.

5. Nuts to aid in the reduction of inflammation

A fatty liver diet including nuts helps to lower inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress.

6. Turmeric can help lower liver damage markers

Curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric, at high dosages may lower indicators of liver damage. Turmeric administration has been shown in studies to reduce blood alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels — two enzymes that are unusually high in persons with fatty liver disease.

7. Garlic has been shown to boost general health

Garlic not only gives flavour to food but garlic powder supplements help persons with fatty liver disease lose weight and fat.

Foods to avoid in fatty liver diseases

Diet for reducing a fatty liver includes must have and have not food. It is not always necessary to only intake a fatty liver diet for maintaining its health but avoiding certain food or cutting down on fat forming foods also helps in maintaining a healthy liver.

  • When possible, avoid  Alcohol-  Alcohol can be a major contributor to fatty liver disease and other liver illnesses.
  • Sugar consumption in excess-  Avoid sugary meals like sweets, cookies, sodas, and fruit juices. High blood sugar levels increase the amount of fat that accumulates in the liver.
  • Cutting down on saturated meat will help you have a healthy liver.
  • Excluding Fried items from a fatty liver disease diet will be helpful.
  • Additional salts-  Excessive salt consumption can raise the risk of NAFLD. It is advised to reduce salt intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. High blood pressure patients should limit their salt consumption to no more than 1,500 mg per day.
  • White bread, rice, and spaghetti are all options. Because of the lack of fibre in white flour, things cooked with it can spike your blood sugar more than whole grains.

Along with a fatty liver disease diet, exercise is an excellent way to reduce cholesterol and maintain a healthy liver.

Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the liver. A vigorous workout may also help to reduce inflammation. Weight lifting and other resistance or strength training exercises can also help with fatty liver disease. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days per week, and moderate to high-intensity strength training three days per week.

The standard treatment for fatty liver disease, whether caused by alcohol or not, is to lose weight by following a proper fatty liver disease diet and exercise. 

In general, nutrients that combat cell damage, make insulin use easier, or reduce inflammation can help reverse the condition.

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