Today, let’s dive into a pressing health concern that is increasing in prevalence worldwide – Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), also known as Fatty Liver for short!
As a Naturopath and Biochemist, I’m eager to share valuable insights about this condition that’s silently impacting the lives of many.
So, what exactly is a fatty liver, and how does it affect your well-being?
When it comes to fatty liver, there are two main types. The first is alcoholic fatty liver disease, which, for decades, was associated with folks who consumed too much alcohol, leading to what’s known as alcoholic fatty liver.
This can then progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. But here’s the twist: even those who aren’t heavy drinkers or don’t drink at all can still end up with fatty liver disease. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out alcohol isn’t the only trigger or cause of fatty liver. That’s where the term non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, comes into play.
What could potentially trigger NAFLD?
- Unhealthy eating habits that are high in refined sugary, highly processed foods and unhealthy fats. Diets rich in sugary beverages, fast food, and excessive calories can lead to fat accumulation in the liver and overwhelm liver detoxification pathways.
- Medications and toxin burden can adversely affect the liver, contributing to NAFLD.
- Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise can be another factor contributing to fatty liver. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting liver health.
- Obesity and being overweight, particularly weight carried around the waistline, is strongly associated with fatty liver. As the body stores extra fat, the liver can become overwhelmed and accumulate fat as well.
- Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome: Insulin resistance, a condition where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, is often linked to fatty liver. Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels, can also contribute to liver fat accumulation.
- Gut Dysbiosis and an unhealthy gut microbiome can contribute to liver burden and fatty liver.
Let’s talk about the signs your body might be giving you…
When your liver’s burdened, you might experience:
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Waking up between 1 and 3 am (it’s like a little internal clock)
- Puzzling weight gain for no reason
- Stubborn weight that just won’t leave, no matter how hard you exercise
- Nausea – sometimes unexplained, sometimes from strong smells or fatty foods
- Itchy skin and the occasional rash or breakout
- PMS – yep, your mood swings and even breast pain could be linked back to the liver’s health
- Bloating about an hour after eating
- Easy bruising (sometimes for no reason)
- Strong-smelling or dark-coloured urine
- Pale-coloured stools
Think of these as quiet messages from your liver, giving you a heads-up that it’s dealing with a lot.
Now, let’s focus on something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or simply fatty liver. It’s becoming a big deal, getting a lot of notice. Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here, shedding light on it.
Rates of diagnosis are climbing, and get this: roughly 25% of grown-ups worldwide have fatty liver disease. Crazy, right? That’s like one in every four people! And it’s not stopping there. By 2030, experts predict those numbers to skyrocket.
Let’s take action now – because prevention is the ultimate game-changer.
Here‘s how you can avoid Fatty Liver:
- Embrace a wholesome eating plan – say goodbye to sugars and processed junk. Fill your plate with salads, fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and nourishing healthy fats. It’s all about finding that delicious balance.
- Regular exercise and fun activities can help get you fit, lose weight, and support a healthy liver.
- Love your gut flora – ensure it’s a thriving paradise of probiotics. A happy gut often means a happy liver.
- Skip the culprits – steer clear of sugars, processed goodies, alcohol, and those greasy fried foods. Your liver will thank you for it!
But what if you’re already dealing with fatty Liver?
I have to tell you about this awesome client of mine. So, it’s 5:31 on a Friday evening, the end of the week, and she phones me. And guess what? She’s in tears! I’m thinking, “What’s wrong? Did something terrible happen?” But guess what? She’s actually crying tears of joy. Can you believe it?
Originally she came to see me for high liver enzymes and a diagnosis of fatty liver. The diagnosis was a shock for her!
Now, you can get your liver enzymes tested to show how your liver is functioning. 5 liver enzymes are routinely tested.
Most of her liver enzymes were high end of the normal range, but one was 4 times above the limit! She phoned me that Friday afternoon to tell me her liver enzyme had dropped from over 200 to now 53. She was so happy because she didn’t think fatty liver could be reversed.
How can you tell if your liver is acting up?
Well, the best way is to test your liver enzymes. This can be done through pathology testing and is as simple as taking some blood. If required, an ultrasound can also be performed to visualise the extent of the damage. It gives us a good idea of what’s happening.
Now, these tests aren’t just about numbers. They’re kind of like checking your car’s health. You don’t just look at the speedometer, right? You also check under the hood. So, we’re interested in the numbers and how your liver looks and works.
When these liver enzymes go high, it’s like a signal that your liver might be struggling. Even if the enzymes are in the normal range but on the high end, it’s a sign that things aren’t going great.
Now, preventing liver issues is way better than dealing with them later. So, taking care of your diet and lifestyle is key. As I’ve mentioned, a quarter of the population is facing liver problems, and the numbers will increase. So, we need to take action now to stop this from getting worse in the future.
Whether you want to prevent Fatty Liver or already have a diagnosis of Fatty Liver, this is where Naturopathic medicine really shines. Naturopaths look at your whole body, lifestyle, diet and nutrition. You see, the liver can regenerate, and fatty liver can be reversed!!
Foods and specific nutrients that support liver detoxification pathways, medicinal herbs, and lifestyle and diet modifications can all help reverse fatty liver.
Whether you’re determined to reclaim a healthy liver or eager to safeguard its vitality, I’m here as your dedicated guide. Join me on this transformative journey together, ensuring your liver’s wellness and your vibrant well-being.
I’m excited to help you reach your health goals!
Ready to kick start Gut Health? Book a Call!
This is how gut microbes can influence weight!
Probiotics can help you gain weight or lose weight by interacting with our genetics, food and metabolism.
And yes, I did say lose or gain weight……..
Firstly, let me explain that the trillions of microbes in the gut need to be varied, meaning that there should be a large variety of species. There are many different species (or breeds) of microbes, and they all have their place in aiding health — the more variety and balance, the better health results.
Back to the weight loss or weight gain issue….
Do you eat yogurt and berries for breakfast? Thinking that it’s helping you lose weight?
Well, Lactobacillus acidophilus (like the species found in yoghurt) has been connected to weight gain.
I am not saying throw your yoghurt and berries in the bin. Instead, I am suggesting looking at the overall picture. If Lactobacillus acidophilus is the predominant micro-organism of the gut, then weight gain can result.
It is about the variety of species of gut microbes. Imagine if we only have trained german shepherd guard dogs in the world. It may be a safe world, but I am sure that other breeds may be more suitable as a family pet.
While Lactobacillus acidophilus is associated with weight gain, other Lactobacillus species correlate with weight loss.
Species like Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacteria animalis have been found to support weight loss.
Want to lose weight?
Look at your gut flora to support your goal.
Tests can be performed to identify the predominant species of the gut, and specific species can be utilised to support weight changes.
Want more information about your gut health?
Or want to look at all the factors contributing to weight gain, I’d love to be able to help.