Updated on July 3, 2021
Diet to help Fatty Liver
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is caused by the built up of fat in the liver. Although early stages NAFLD does not usually cause any harm, it can lead to liver inflammation from oxidative stress. If this inflammatory process is allowed to continue, the liver will get damaged and scarred (known as fibrosis) leading to eventual morbidity and mortality in patients.
The primary cause of obesity is energy imbalance where a person consumes more calories than is expended. The excess calories is then stored as fat in the body (including the liver) resulting in weight gain and fatty liver. The obesity epidemic is made worse because of the increasing sedentary lifestyle coupled with availability of processed food (especially energy-dense foods).
Click to view Daily Dose of Medicine video on What to eat for fatty liver
Smart Diet Choices for a Healthy Liver
Management of NAFLD involves adopting healthy diet choices as well as losing weight to achieve a BMI suitable for your height and age, increasing physical activity and avoiding alcohol or smoking. Research shows that just a 3-5% reduction of your body weight can result in improvement in your liver health.
The dietary principles to help prevent fatty liver are as follows;
1. Take more brown rice or quinoa and reduce (or avoid) refined starches to prevent high blood glucose in your body. Excess glucose gets converted into fat in your liver. Eating more LOW glycemic index (GI) foods such as most fruits, vegetables or whole grain rich foods affect your blood glucose less than high GI foods such as white bread, white rice and potatoes. Replace some of the carbohydrate portion of your diet with additional protein from a mixture of animal or vegetable sources (such as chicken, fish, cheese, tofu and pulses).
2. Take a variety of bioactive compounds in your diet by consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and polyphenols is associated with reduced liver inflammation. Polyphenols protects the body cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Berries and nuts contain resveratrol which can improve liver enzyme levels. Blackberries, radishes, and spinach are rich in anthocyanins which reduce fat build-up in the liver.
3. Replace your fat intake to unsaturated sources such as olive oil (ideally extra virgin), rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil or nuts and seeds
4. Limit or avoid added sugars (such as sucrose, fructose, maltose, maltodextrin or any syrups) in your foods. Avoid any food items if these sugars appear in the first 3-5 ingredients on the food label of any food item
5. Avoid added sugar found in carbonated sugary drinks, boxed or bottled juices and in packet tea or coffee (such as 3-in-1 sachets)
Click to view Canadian Liver Foundation video on Fatty Liver
Discuss your health requirements with your dietician, nutritionist or doctor
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