Fatty liver disease is not what you may think. Fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat cells build up in your liver, but not exactly like when it starts to accumulate around your waistline. You can carry a little extra weight in your belly without it causing great harm to you, but extra fat cells in the liver can cause absolute havoc on your body. This is due to the liver’s important job of cleaning your body of toxins.
The liver is the largest solid organ in your body. It sits atop the digestive tract, and below the lungs on the upper right side of your body, near the diaphragm. It is responsible for important metabolic processes in the body. The liver creates bile that is important for the processing of toxins, protein synthesis, and digestion. The liver filters out the “bad” and helps the body process the “good,” so without it, many secondary health issues can develop.
There is also evidence that the liver is a key component in the adaptive/specific immune response, but medical science is only recently discovering the full extent of this aspect of the liver.
There are two types; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFL).
What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?
The non-alcoholic type of fatty liver disease is caused when there is an injury to the liver – most often due to scaring or fibrosis, as from an acute injury like a car accident, or from nutrient deficiencies, and other causes of inflammation like chronic stress.
Autoimmune diseases can also cause chronic inflammation which lead to fatty liver disease. Autoimmune problems can be caused or exacerbated by recreational drugs, Hep B, smoking, and environmental toxins, and even pharmaceutical medications. A lack of certain key nutritional elements can also cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the result of damage to the liver’s cells from prolonged abuse of alcohol. Either alcoholic fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can eventually turn into liver cancer.
Symptoms of either type of fatty liver disease may include:
- Foggy thinking, cognitive impairment
- Disrupted digestion which can lead to malnutrition and weight loss
- A weakened immune system – if you notice you get colds, flu, or other illnesses very easily, you may have fatty liver disease
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Mood swings
- Low energy
- Bruise easily
- Swelling of any part of the body (edema) but the liver, in particular, may cause pain the upper torso or back
Allopathic Cures for Fatty Liver Disease
The usual remedies for fatty liver disease utilized by allopathic medicine can be quiet extreme if diet and exercise don’t solve the problem.
There are no medications to control fatty liver disease, although some doctors prescribe cholesterol or triglyceride medications.
Allopathic cures include blood transfusions, the removal of part of the liver, or a liver transplant. In patients who are obese, bariatric surgery may also be prescribed, since being overweight can lead to fatty liver disease.
Natural Cures for Fatty Liver Disease
There are many natural remedies that promote liver health. Many of these remedies help to prevent fat cells from accumulating in the liver, but also support the liver in detoxifying the body overall so that it does not become overburdened with this endeavor.
There are literally thousands of herbs that help to detox the liver, but following are a handful that are extremely beneficial for cleansing the liver of damaging substances:
- Borotutu Bark – this traditional African herb is a powerful liver detoxifying agent. It has been used for centuries to cleanse the liver, boost energy levels, and aid in digestion. It is also highly effective for kidney stones, and gallbladder congestion.
- Dandelion Root – Most people think of dandelion as a weed, but it is not only a powerful medicinal root that can be used as a liver detoxer, but it is also an anti-carcinogenic (meaning it kills cancer cells). It is a natural diuretic which will make it easier for your liver to expel toxins from your body. Most people take dandelion root in the form of a tea.
- Organic Turmeric – While you should be sure to purchase organic turmeric, since non-organic varieties can be full of lead and herbicides which clog the liver, the golden spice, as turmeric is called can do wonders for your liver. Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation in the body and has over 1200 different medicinal applications, to boot. When combined with myrrh or pepperine (common pepper_ turmeric becomes even more bio-available for yoru body.
- Milk Thistle Seed – Milk Thistle is a standard liver detoxifying agent. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years for the liver and the biliary tract.
- Chanca Piedra – Chanca Piedra, also known as carry-me-seed, is excellent for your liver’s health. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to purify the liver meridians, and blood.
- Chicory Root – This root, commonly found growing wild in many places helps to protect the liver from hepatoxicity (Hep B), as well as reduce its toxic load. It is most commonly taken as an extract, but native Americans and other cultures ate the gathered leaves and roots. It is a bitter root which is also taken in coffee in New Orleans, as a specialty drink.
- Peppermint – Peppermint is a digestive aid, but it also helps to detox the liver.
Food Remedies for Fatty Liver Disease
There are hundreds of foods you can eat that help naturally cleanse the liver, from lemons to beets, to cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and kale but perhaps one often-ignored aspect of liver health – as well as whole body health – is just getting rid of the toxins from our food and beverages.
Most people are aware that highly processed foods, including trans-fats, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and MSG are bad for us, but many people are unaware that the average “convenience” food – either one purchased from a fast food restaurant, or purchased at your local super market, contain as many as 300 chemical additives.
That’s right ONE product can contain more than 300 different chemical additives from the thousands that food manufacturers use to make cheap food taste palatable. These toxins then have to be processed through the liver so that we can get rid of them.
So, instead of listing thousands of food additives that you need to be avoiding in your food, the easiest thing to do is just eat as many organic fruits, vegetables, buts, seeds, beans, legumes, sprouts, and whole grains as possible.
This will keep you full. It will give you the nutrients your body needs, and you will be less inclined to want to eat a whole bucket of fried chicken, an entire bag of chips, or some “fat-free” TV dinner that is loaded with chemicals that damage your liver.
Exercise for Fatty Liver Disease
So, you’ve noticed you have a little muffin top, or a bit of a beer belly. That’s o.k., but your liver really isn’t meant to store extra fat cells. One of the easiest ways to make sure that you don’t develop fatty liver disease is to stop drinking too much alcohol, eat healthy food, and get up and move. It doesn’t have to be a marathon you run.
You don’t have to do more than 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day to make a huge difference in your overall health – but you do need to exercise consistently, so find a friend. Enroll in that hip-hop or ballet class you’ve always wanted to try, or just head to a lake or a beach and go for a swim. Your liver will thank you.
Stress Reduction to Reduce Chronic Inflammation
The liver like all organs in your body is adversely affected by chronic inflammation. This is what happens when your immune system “forgets” to turn of inflammatory signals that get to work when you have a virus, bacterial infection, or a cut, and it needs to send T-cells to kill the infection or heal a wound.
Instead, the body starts thinking its own, healthy normal cells are an “infection” and start fighting them. In the case of auto-immune disorders, the liver can also become a target for inflammation.
While diet and exercise are important components in lowering an over-active inflammatory response in the body, stress should not be overlooked. Stress, causes a whole cascade of neuro-hormones which lead to chronic inflammation, and a feedback loop that keep you sick and emotionally deflated.
The effect of stress on your liver is no different. If your body is in high alert, fight-or-flight mode because it is always stressed out, it cannot “rest and digest” as it does when it is relaxed, and the liver cannot offload toxins that have built up in your body.
Fatty liver disease can almost always be cured by lifestyle choices, and diet changes. By paying attention to what we eat, lowering our stress, and simply moving a little more, we can feel ore energized, reduce the toxic burden of the body, and free the liver to do what it does best.