the most common form of liver disease in United States and
other developed countries. And itís not related to alcohol
consumption. Thatís why itís called non-alcoholic fatty
liver disease or NAFLD.
its name implies, NAFLD is an abnormal build-up of fat in the
liver. If left untreated, the liver becomes more and more
inflamed and can eventually progress to irreversible liver
damage called cirrhosis.
to a recent article by registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger
in Food & Nutrition magazine for nutrition professionals,
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease appears more in people who
are obese and/or have type 2 diabetes. NAFLD is also more
common if a person has one or more characteristics of a
condition called metabolic syndrome: excess inches around the
abdomen, high blood sugars, elevated blood pressure and blood
triglycerides, and low levels of HDL "good"
(or maybe it shouldnít be), the main treatment for NAFLD
involves lifestyle changes to help the liver heal itself. That
includes a diet that provides optimal nutrients and limited
calories to lose weight.
steady weight loss is best, say nutrition experts. Diets that
cause a rapid loss of weight (more than 3.5 pounds per week)
force large amounts of fatty acids through the liver and can
actually worsen NAFLD.
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is related to metabolic
syndrome, diets that improve that condition are also effective
treatments for NAFLD. One good example is the
Mediterranean-style diet which features olive oil, nuts, fish,
fruit, veggies, and whole grains; this style of eating has
been shown to lower fat levels in the liver.
about wine and other types of alcohol? Even though NAFLD is
not related to alcohol consumption, excess booze may aggravate
a fatty liver. For this reason, many experts including the
American Liver Foundation, advise those with NAFLD to
completely avoid alcoholic beverages.
and tea are generally OK for people with NAFLD. Limited
research suggests that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
properties of these beverages may reduce the severity of fatty
liver. Forget it if you drown your coffee and tea in sugar,
however. Drinking super-sweetened beverages may increase your
risk for fatty liver, say some scientists.
cautious with self-dosing various supplements, Weisenberger
advises. Excessive hits of some herbal products are toxic to
the liver. Green tea, for example, is rich in substances that
may improve NAFLD. Yet concentrated doses of green tea
extracts have caused liver problems in some people, according
to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative
activity is another effective treatment for NAFLD. Aim for a
minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate "huff and
puff" exercise combined with a couple of strength
training sessions a week, say experts.