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Getting regular blood tests done is extremely important; if not quarterly, then at least twice a year. This will allow you to identify certain diseases which may not present any symptoms in your body. One such condition is fatty liver disease.
The term itself describes the excess deposition of fat in the liver. In a normal person, about 5-10% of the liver is composed of fat. When it becomes more than 10%, the condition is known as fatty liver.
Usually, fatty liver causes no symptoms and does not lead to any permanent damage. It’s a reversible condition that can be resolved by changing one’s lifestyle. Fatty liver causes problems only when the fat content in the liver is excessive and causes inflammation of the liver, which can then damage the organ. But it gives enough time for a person to mend ways before it reaches such a stage.
So, if your recent blood test reports show deranged liver enzymes or an ultrasound showing excess fat in the liver, discuss with your doctor and immediately make the following changes to your diet and lifestyle to start the reversal process.
There are two types of fatty liver disease — alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver. Alcohol abuse leads to alcoholic fatty liver and abstaining from alcohol in such cases is necessary. Trust us, it will cause the fatty liver to subside within six weeks.
When there is no or moderate intake of alcohol and there’s still fatty liver, it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). In such cases, reduce your alcohol intake further and drink not more than 1-2 small drinks occasionally.
Eating small and frequently will enhance your metabolism and will help you lose weight. Losing weight will be necessary to heal the liver faster. So, along with three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), have three small meals (early morning, mid-morning, and evening snacks).
Meeting protein requirements will not only help boost your metabolism, and lead to weight loss, but it will also help your liver heal faster. An adult should consume a minimum of 0.8-1 gram protein per kg body weight on a daily basis. Most of us, especially vegetarians, do not even meet half of their requirements. So, include one protein-rich source in every major and minor meal of the day to ensure you meet your daily requirements.
The protein-rich sources include:
Fibre acts as a natural scavenger, thus adding vegetables, whole fruits, and even whole grains will help remove excess fat from the liver. It will also promote weight loss and control blood sugar levels, which will indirectly help heal the liver faster.
Vegetables (green leafy, red, yellow, and orange-coloured vegetables like beet, carrots, yellow pumpkin, yellow or red bell peppers, etc.) and whole fruits (berries, kiwi, orange, pomegranate, pineapple, etc.) are rich sources of antioxidants. Thus, they will protect the liver cells from damage.
Research has shown that consuming Omega-3 rich fats and monounsaturated fats help reduce hepatic lipid and improve liver fat in patients with NAFLD. Also, Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory in nature, which will protect the liver from any inflammation. Thus, add the following rich sources of omega-3 and MUFA to your daily diet.
Saturated fats are those which are solid at room temperatures like butter, ghee, margarine, cheese, full-fat dairy foods, and red meat. Consumption of these enhances the deposition of fats in the liver. Thus, they should be completely avoided.
Sugar and fatty foods, especially packaged and processed foods like breads, biscuits, namkeens, mathi, paranthas, poori, bhature, samosa, desserts, jams, ketchup, etc. are highly inflammatory in nature. One must avoid their consumption to accelerate liver healing.
A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity, six days a week is necessary to lose weight, control blood sugar levels, and thyroid as well as lipid profile. In totality, it will make sure that fatty liver reversal is happening at a good pace.
Having said all of the above, prevention is always better than cure. So by leading a healthy lifestyle in which you eat timely, healthy meals and are physically active, you will protect your liver from any harm in the first place.