Liver is the largest gland in the human body and is also known as the Chemical Factory of the body. More than 500 vital functions have been identified with the liver, ranging from fighting infection, breakdown of fats, filtering blood of toxins, storing vitamins, iron, to manufacturing proteins and hormones, and helping clot your blood. Like any other organ in the body, this busy organ can also have issues, which is a condition called Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Normally, the liver stores some fat. However, in some cases when the liver stores more than healthy fat, that extra fat causes inflammation, which is known as NAFLD.
Usually, there are no symptoms of NAFLD in the early stages. When it does, they may include, enlarged liver, fatigue or pain in the upper right abdomen. In most cases, fatty liver disease is diagnosed after blood tests show elevated levels of liver enzymes released from damaged liver cells, namely Alanine aminotransferase test (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase test (AST).
Luckily, lifestyle changes such as dietary intervention and increased physical activity are the first-line treatment and support not only for NAFLD but also associated diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and dyslipidemia. And, gradual weight loss can take the pressure off the liver, allowing it to regenerate itself.
Dietary Changes To Reverse NAFLD
1. Complex Carbs
Complex Carbohydrates are packed with dietary fibre and micronutrients which help in appetite regulation as it takes longer to digest plus DF prevents absorption of fats in the intestine, thereby helping you lose weight, and also lowering the amount of fat in your liver.
- Include Whole Grains in the form of chapati, upma, dosa, idli, porridge, khichdi, etc.
- Include sprouted or boiled whole pulses.
- Seasonal vegetables and Fruits.
- Reduce sugar intake as it stimulates de novo lipogenesis and finally development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) & nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). So, replace packaged drinks with fresh coconut water/lime water; biscuits with nuts/roasted chana; reduce tea quantity to half cup every time you drink and no sauce/jam /salad dressing .
- Soluble fiber Supplementation
Increased fat intake has been linked to insulin resistance, impaired postprandial lipid metabolism and the development or progression of NAFLD. So, reduce intake of ‘Visible fat’, & try to limit oil/fat intake to less than 500 ml/person/month. Choose Extra Virgin/Filtered /kachhi ghani oils (mustard, sesame, groundnut, Olive oil, Canola oil etc.) in place of refined oils to have anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing effects.
- Complete No for Trans fatty acids and saturated fats . So, no fried or gravy foods/eating out /packaged food.
- Choose healthy Invisible Fats rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as nuts, avacado, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sabja seeds, etc.
3. Protein Source
A fair increase in protein intake combined with a low-GI diet, is associated with improved weight-loss maintenance due to its satiating effect and increased thermogenic effect of protein metabolism. So, include options like nuts, low-fat dairy, beans, whole pulses, fish, and poultry, sprouts/roasted chana/nuts/ Sattu drink, nuts smoothie (without sugar), etc. Cut meat intake to once a week. Prefer white/lean meats such as fish/poultry. And completely avoid Red meats as they are high in cholesterol & saturated fats because many studies have associated it with increased risk of liver related diseases and cancer, whereas white meat has been associated with reduced risk.
4. Herbs and supplements
Certain herbs and supplements have shown to play a key role in glucose and fat metabolism, insulin signalling, and energy balance, thereby helping in reversing the fatty liver condition. This may include Apple Cider Vinegar, Fenugreek Seeds, Flaxseed, Nigella Seeds, Milk Thistle, Coffee, Quercetin, Resveratrol etc.
Having discussed the dietary changes, this journey is incomplete without the inclusion of at least 30 mins of physical Activity, 4-5 days a week, management of Sleep and Stress issues. Do consult your dietitian/nutritionist to help fine-tune your diet so you are not aggravating your condition.
We hope this article helps you reverse NAFLD. Do leave your thoughts in the comments below. For more information to help you reverse NAFLD, check out Healthy Reads or tune in to LIVE sessions by experts on GOQii Play.