Liver is the second largest organ in the human body. It has many functions to perform but the main one is getting rid of all the harmful substances that we feed our body. So, we can say that it acts as a filter in our body. Having a moderate amount of fat in your liver is not an issue but the question is, when exactly can we say that we have the fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic steatosis? When should we look for fatty liver home remedies? And what supplements are safe and beneficial to consume?
The equation actually is quite simple. We all have a certain amount of fat stored in our liver, which is fine as long as the liver cell proportion is less than or equal to 5 percent. But if that amount exceeds, it would mean there is fat in your liver.
But how do we get fats on the Liver?
A typical indicator of a fatty liver is alcohol abuse. However, the symptoms aren’t much visible in case of the non-alcoholic individuals. The underlying cause may be due to taking a high amount of fat or carbohydrates. Also, people who are affected by type 2 diabetes and those who don’t exercise regularly often suffer from this disease.
When there is a lot of excess fat in your body, your liver cannot function well because the liver fails to metabolize that excess fat, which ends up getting stored in the liver cells and hence the occurrence of fatty liver. But there are several other factors that could lead to fatty liver disease:
- The most common cause is obesity
- Diabetes is one of the major causes
- A high amount of triglycerides in the blood, also known as hyperlipidemia
- Sometimes it occurs genetically
- Rapid weight loss
- Certain medications cause fat accumulation on liver cells as side effects
Fatty Liver: Signs and Symptoms
Often, there is no early sign of liver damage caused by fatty liver disease. People often get diagnosed for fatty liver through Ultrasonography or Physical examination routine checkup by the doctors. Now, you need to understand different liver damage symptoms.
Signs of Liver Damage
- Decreased appetite
- A sudden weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
However, in the worst case scenarios where the patient is moving towards ultimate liver failure or on the verge of having liver cirrhosis., they might encounter symptoms like:
- Abdominal swelling
- Jaundice, causing yellow eyes and skin
- Hepatitis A to E
- Abdominal Bleeding
- Enlarged blood vessels below the surface of the skin
- Enlarged breast size in men
- Red palms
Types of Fatty Liver
There are mainly two types of fatty liver – Alcoholic Fatty Liver (ALD) and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFLD). However, there is also a rare condition called AFLP (Acute Fatty Liver Pregnancy), which women could experience during pregnancy.
Alcoholic fatty liver: It is usually caused by excessive drinking. Alcohol not only damages your kidney but also it has immense effects on your liver. Here, what happens is that alcohol builds up fat in your liver cells over time. When the amount of fat on your liver increases, its functional capability decreases to a great extent. Having fat on your liver is one of the first liver damage symptoms and later it could lead to other deadly diseases, such as Alcoholic Cirrhosis or Alcoholic Hepatitis.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver: As the name suggests, this is a condition that doesn’t occur due to over drinking. However, this is not a major stage of liver damage, as this can be caused by any damage to your liver cells or if you are experiencing any kind of liver inflammation. For your information, those who have recently undergone gallbladder surgery often suffer from this condition. Its symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal swelling or pain
Acute Fatty Liver Pregnancy: This is an acute fatty liver condition that could occur during pregnancy. This is uncommon but could be deadly if the patient does not take the necessary steps to fight this disease. The symptoms usually start to show up in the 3rd trimester, which includes:
- Persistent vomiting and nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Severe pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- A continuous headache
- Hepatitis or Jaundice
Whenever you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately and get checked. Treating this condition during its early stage can help reduce further complications during delivery in case you are pregnant. It could take a few months for one to recover, but most new mothers take just a few weeks. As the saying goes, Prevention is better than cure, its good to drink and eat some specific foods to keep your liver healthy and fit.
Physical Examination (PE)
This is done by the doctor to check if your liver is enlarged or if you have an inflamed liver. But there is a possibility that your liver could remain normal even if you have liver inflammation. You should mention all the symptoms you have recently been experiencing, like nausea, vomiting, or a loss of appetite.
Blood tests are done to have a routine examination of your liver enzymes. This is to check if the level of liver enzymes is more than the normal conditions. However, this doesn’t actually state that you have AFLD or NAFLD, but this could be an indication of a fatty liver.
Imaging and Biopsy of Liver
They are often suggested by doctors where imaging includes MRI, CT scan, or Ultrasonography. They are to find out if there is fat in and around your liver and other liver complications. Ultrasonography helps to detect the fat stored in your liver but nowadays there is an alternative to this type of imaging available – FibroScan.
For best results, liver biopsy is still preferred above all. As liver biopsy can easily detect how bad the condition of the disease is. During this process, the doctor will take a sample of your liver tissue for testing. You will get anesthesia so you don’t feel much pain. For exact cause determination, liver biopsy still is the ultimate solution.
Fatty Liver Home Remedies
The natural treatment of the fatty liver disease, be it of the alcoholic or non-alcoholic type, is all about maintaining a healthy lifestyle by regular exercise and by following a balanced diet. But what kind of diet should you follow? You want to have foods that would help you protect yourself from liver cell damage, or to control your insulin level or to lower the inflammation.
However, depending on one’s individual physical and medical conditions, the criteria could change. Before its too late, you can change your lifestyle with a healthy diet and cleanse your liver with some homemade juices. Your doctors could suggest a diet plan that you should follow, but we have provided some ideas that you might find very useful.
This is one of the most popular fatty liver home remedies worldwide. This diet plan consists of a variety of combination of foods which would help you get the excess fat from your liver cells. You should include the following on your diet:
- Whole Grains
- Green Vegetables
- Olive oil
Carbs selection is very important for someone with this disease. Our liver converts sugar into fat very easily when it is consumed in a simple form, like regular soda, corn syrup, and candies. This is necessary in order to maintain the triglycerides level in our blood. Replace them with fruits which are naturally sweet. Complex carbs, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables contain a huge amount of fiber and so they are very safe. They also take a lot of time to digest, so you do not have an overflow of sugar in your body.
Healthy fats are needed for your cells to generate energy, obtained from glucose from the foods you eat. However, people infected with fatty liver disease are resistant to insulin. When the body produces excess insulin, the liver can’t function well. Therefore, glucose gets stored in their blood and their liver holds those sugars as extra fats. But there are certain types of fat beneficial to your body and put less strain on your liver.
- Omega 3 fats or fatty acids are one of the essential fats your liver needs. They are mostly found in seafood, vegetable oils, fish oils, walnuts or nuts, green leaves and vegetables, and flaxseed.
- Certain plant sources contain a huge amount of monounsaturated fats. They are abundant in nuts, avocados, and olives.
These are very essential for your liver to break down the nutrients properly. If there isn’t enough supply of antioxidants in your body, fat would pile up in your liver cells. Fruits rich in citric acids and berries contain a huge amount of antioxidants. Vitamin E and C are very helpful for you in order to fight this disease and they are also used as medicines for lowering cholesterol. Sunflower oils and almonds are often recommended by doctors as good Vitamin E sources.
However, there are other sources of foods that can be a part of fatty liver home remedies.
- Coffee can help lose weight and is good for inflammation and insulin resistance reduction. It is also beneficial to those suffering from heart disease.
- Garlic and honey are two ancient herbal medicines that can effectively treat many diseases, such as acid reflux, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, and inflamed liver.
- Green tea has gained a lot of popularity these days as it can fight obesity and is a great source of antioxidants.
- A Chinese herb, known as Goji berry or wolfberry, is an antioxidant that could help reduce the excess fat in your body.
- Red grapes are a good source of resveratrol, which controls inflammation.
- Tuna and oysters are rich in selenium minerals that are also helpful in this case
- Turmeric is an ancient herbal medicine mainly found in Asia that can be used for reducing liver inflammation as well as liver fat naturally. Not only this, turmeric aids in faster digestion.
- Papaya also aids digestion and is good for the liver. You can enjoy its benefits by either eating the whole fruit or grind the seeds and drink the juice.
- You can also try Apple Cider Vinegar because it reduces fat, promotes healthy liver function and reduces liver inflammation. Drinking few spoons of apple cider vinegar for a couple of months would help you notice the changes.
Doing exercise on a regular basis is necessary to fight the fatty liver disease. If you do not engage in any form of physical activity, the stored fat on your body will not burn out. This might increase the chances of having this disease and if you are already infected, the condition will become worse.
However, that does not necessarily mean that you have to go for heavy workout programs. You can start with freehand exercises right at your home that could include yoga, flex exercises, rope jumping, and many more. As a patient of the fatty liver disease, make sure that you spare 30 minutes for exercise 3-4 days a week.
To conclude, your liver is one of the essential body organs that you cannot live without. Not taking proper care of your liver can turn your life upside down. It is not a big deal to keep your liver healthy – all you need to do is take good care of your body with the right nutrition. If you are a patient of this disease you can bring it under control with the help of the safe yet effective fatty liver supplements as well as the fatty liver home remedies we mentioned in this article. Also, keep visiting your doctor regularly and if you are addicted to alcohol, it’s time to give up.