What Is Fatty Liver?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an increasingly common condition marked by accumulation of fat in the liver cells. In some cases, fatty liver can cause inflammation and scarring and even lead to liver failure or cirrhosis.
What Causes Fatty Liver?
Often occurring in people who are overweight or obese, fatty liver has been linked to diabetes, high levels of blood fats, and insulin resistance. In fact, a 2009 study suggests that approximately 70% of people with type-2 diabetes may have fatty liver, and that the disease might follow a more aggressive course for diabetes patients.
Standard blood tests at your doctor's office should indicate whether you have high levels of certain liver enzymes, a marker of fatty liver.
How Do You Treat Fatty Liver?
Although there is no way to treat fatty liver medically, losing weight and lowering your levels of blood fats could help manage the condition. Keeping fatty liver in check is crucial to your overall health: A pair of studies published in 2008 show that excess liver fat can leave you more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease, in addition to diabetes.
Prevent Fatty Liver Naturally
Here are four ways to boost your defense against fatty liver disease.
1) Maintain a Healthy Weight
Sticking to a healthy, plant-based diet and getting regular exercise can keep fat from building up in your liver.
Learn more about finding a diet that's right for you.
2) Cleanse Your Body of Toxins
Exposure to toxins (found in industrial chemicals, some medications, and even your food) can weaken liver function and may contribute to the development of fatty liver. In addition to keeping away from toxic substances, consider flushing toxins from your system with the help of a detox diet.
3) Get Your Antioxidants
Vitamins E and C -- both antioxidants -- may help promote liver health. In a 2005 study, scientists discovered that taking supplements of vitamins E and C helped lower participants' levels of enzymes that are typically elevated in people with fatty liver disease.
4) Try Herbal Medicine
A traditional remedy for liver problems, milk thistle may boost the production of enzymes that help the liver knock out toxins. However, it's important to note that the FDA has not approved the use of milk thistle for improving liver health. Before you begin taking any kind of herb, find out how to use supplements safely.
Cusi K. "Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in type 2 diabetes mellitus." Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity 2009 16(2):141-9.
Fabbrini E, deHaseth D, Deivanayagam S, Mohammed BS, Vitola BE, Klein S. "Alterations in fatty acid kinetics in obese adolescents with increased intrahepatic triglyceride content." Obesity 2009 17(1):25-9.
Deivanayagam S, Mohammed BS, Vitola BE, Naguib GH, Keshen TH, Kirk EP, Klein S. "Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with hepatic and skeletal muscle insulin resistance in overweight adolescents." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008 88(2):257-62.
Ersöz G, Günşar F, Karasu Z, Akay S, Batur Y, Akarca US. "Management of fatty liver disease with vitamin E and C compared to ursodeoxycholic acid treatment." The Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology 2005 16(3):124-8.