The liver is the body’s second largest organ and it plays an important role by breaking down fats, detoxifying the blood and helping to manage blood glucose levels. It is important look after your liver to keep it healthy and to watch out for liver diseases such as a fatty Liver disease (Hepatic Steatosis).
What is Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Steatosis)?
Fatty liver, or hepatic steatosis, is a broad term that describes the buildup of fats in the liver. Having fat in your liver is normal, but if it has more than 5 to 10 percent of fat, then the condition is called fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver is quite common and 10 to 20 percent of Americans have too much fat in their liver. Most cases of fatty liver disease are detected between ages 50 and 60.
What are the Main Types of Fatty Liver?
There are two main types fatty liver disease:
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when your liver has trouble breaking down fats, causing fat to build up in your liver tissue.
It is not clear what causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heredity is often thought to play a role in its occurrence.
The wide range of diseases and conditions linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is so diverse that it’s difficult to pinpoint any one cause. It often affects people who are overweight and/or are in their 40’s and 50’s.
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) or Alcoholic Hepatitis
This type of liver disease is pretty self-explanatory. Alcoholic liver disease (alcoholic hepatitis) is thought to occur because of excess alcohol consumption or binge drinking. Heredity is thought to play a role in its occurrence and severity.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Steatosis)
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine the symptoms of fatty liver disease can include:
- Weight loss or poor appetite
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- A feeling of overall weakness
- Trouble concentrating or confusion
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
For more information about signs of liver damage, read my post about the early signs of liver damage and how to strengthen your liver. Advertisement
How to Prevent Fatty Liver Disease
I’ve already written in great detail about the 5 common habits that damage your liver which you must avoid to keep your liver in top working condition.
Here are other things you can do specifically for the prevention of fatty liver disease:
- Lose weight. If you’re overweight, reduce the number of calories you eat each day and increase your physical activity in order to lose weight.
- Choose a healthy diet. Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Exercise and be more active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Control your diabetes. Follow your doctor’s instructions to stay in control of your diabetes. Take your medications as directed and closely monitor your blood sugar.
- Lower your cholesterol. A healthy diet, exercise and medications can help keep your cholesterol and your triglycerides at healthy levels.
- Protect your liver. Avoid things that will put extra stress on your liver. For example, don’t drink alcohol. Follow the instructions on all medications and over-the-counter drugs and avoid other common habits that can damage your liver.
Natural Ways to Treat or Prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Many people turn to medical treatments and drugs to help reduce their risk of getting or treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. But there are other ways for a person to do this and that is by using some effective home remedies that are backed by medical studies. Advertisement
Here are a few choices that have been shown to be effective.
Milk Thistle Extract and Amla (Gooseberry)
Studies suggest that amla and milk thistle can help support healthy liver functioning.
Amla (Indian gooseberry) has long been thought of as a powerful antioxidant and one medical study concluded that it can protect your liver.
Another medical study found that Amla extract could help treat liver damage caused by alcohol consumption.
Milk Thistle is a flower that is known to contain a large amount of a flavonoid called Silymarin that is thought to be beneficial for liver function. The medical journal World Journal of Hepatology reported that Silymarin can help treat non alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Related article: top 6 herbs to detox your liver
Consume Liver Boosting vegetables Advertisement
Garlic, onions, leeks and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are particularly helpful.
Patients that have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease often show signs of elevated levels of harmful transaminase enzymes in the liver (also known as AST and ALT).
According to a 2012 study conducted at the Gastrointestinal and Liver Clinic of Qazvin in central Iran licorice was found to help bring those enzyme levels back to normal.
The participants in the study received 1 capsule containing 2 g licorice root extract alone daily for 2 months.
Natural Bile Boosters (Bile Acids)
Bile is produced by the liver to help emulsify fats that we consume and to help digestion. Here are a few natural bile boosters:
- Green tea
- Lemon juice
In one study, people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease who drank coffee had less liver damage than those who drank little or no coffee.
Another medical study found that drinking coffee every day has health benefits if you have chronic liver disease.
It’s not clear how coffee may influence liver damage or how much coffee you’d need to drink in order to prevent or treat fatty liver disease.
For more information about the link between coffee consumption and liver health read my article on what drinking coffee does to your liver.