An inadequate diet, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, or diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol can cause liver inflammation. Find out what foods are recommended to include in the diet to reduce the fat accumulated in the liver. Fatty liver or non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis (NASH) is a syndrome characterized by the presence of fatty deposits in the liver in patients without alcohol consumption and in the absence of other causes of liver disease, according to the Catalan Society of Digestology.
It is a chronic liver disorder that affects between 20-30% of the population in developed countries and can cause cirrhosis and cardiovascular diseases.
What is a fatty liver?
The liver is one of the vital organs and the second largest, after the skin. This viscus performs more than 500 essential functions for our body, such as helping to digest food, store energy and eliminate toxic substances.
Sometimes, excess fat accumulates in the liver cells. When it exceeds 5% of the weight of the liver, it causes non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis (NASH), better known as fatty liver. It is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting a quarter of the world’s population, and can lead to liver cirrhosis.
Causes of fatty liver
There are several factors that can favor the development of a fatty liver.
Obesity. Excess weight can cause inflammation, which, in turn, stimulates the accumulation of fat in the liver. 70% of patients suffer from obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Belly fat. Visceral obesity, that is, excess fat around the waist, predisposes to this liver disease.
Type 2 diabetes. People who suffer from it tend to accumulate more fat in the liver due to insulin resistance. There is a relationship between fatty liver and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Refined carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates in excess promotes the accumulation of fat in the liver, especially in people who are overweight and have diabetes.
Sugary drinks. Soda and energy drinks are high in fructose, which can lead to fatty buildup in the liver in children and adults.
Intestinal problems. Imbalances in the flora of the intestine and health problems in that area affect the liver.
fatty liver symptoms
Fat deposition liver disease usually does not cause symptoms.
Some patients, however, notice tiredness, malaise, or pain in the right and upper abdomen.
- fatigue and weakness
- Mild abdominal pain or swelling
- Elevated levels of liver enzymes
- Elevated insulin and triglyceride levels
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- Yellow eyes and skin (jaundice)
The diagnostic suspicion of fatty liver is made due to the alteration of liver function tests (generally increased transaminases) or due to the presence of abnormalities on abdominal ultrasound (shiny liver, which is caused by accumulated fat).
However, the definitive diagnosis can only be made by performing a liver biopsy.
diet for fatty liver
There is currently no specific treatment for fatty liver disease. In obese or overweight patients, it is recommended to lose weight by modifying dietary habits and encouraging physical exercise.
Reduce caloric intake. Weight loss is one of the best ways to get rid of fat in your liver, especially if you are overweight or obese.
Do not snack between meals. Avoid eating food between meals. Try to eat three times a day and, if you feel hungry, choose to drink water or have an infusion.
polyunsaturated fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet (rich in omega 3 and low in fat) helps reduce fat in the liver. Olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish.
Allowed foods. Garlic and onion, avocado, vitamin C and D, salmon, and tuna are very beneficial for the liver. Coffee and green tea also reduce liver inflammation.
Forbidden food. Eliminate sugary drinks, because they favor the synthesis of triglycerides in the liver. Discard red meat, sausages, industrial pastries, salt, and alcohol.
The weekly menu for fatty liver
We propose one to inspire you, although the options are endless.
Breakfast. Start the day with a bowl of berries low-fat yogurt and a handful of nuts. It also serves an omelet with spinach and a cup of coffee with skimmed milk.
Food. First, green shoots salad with vinaigrette. As a second you can eat grilled salmon with a garnish of broccoli and, for dessert, a bowl with natural pineapple or a kiwi.
Dinner. A plate of green beans and some toast with avocado and low-fat cheese are two very healthy and light options.
As you can see, diet plays a fundamental role in reducing excess fat in the liver. We must not forget to accompany good eating habits with the practice of physical exercise, at least four times a week for half an hour.