Fatty liver? Eat less carbs!

Liver Cleansing Diet

There are many ways to cleanse the liver, but usually liver cleansing diet won’t really work. See, the liver is not “dirty” and no amount of “cleaning” or “cleansing” will do. There are many risk factors directly or indirectly influencing the liver: consumption of alcohol, getting a lot of medicines, some infections (hepatitis B and C), but above all metabolic abnormalities like being obese, having diabetes or metabolic syndrome. You just can’t cleanse those out with a liver cleansing diet. However, if your liver is hurt, not doing anything about it, might lead to worsening and development of serious diseases.

Fatty liver

One of the biggest public health problems concerning liver is the fatty liver a.k.a. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a condition that is asymptomatic for a very long time – you just don’t know it’s developing, but it can lead to cirrhosis or cancer. It is a consequence of bad life-style choices, especially chronic overnutrition and bad food choices. NAFLD, as the name implies, is not connected to alcohol abuse – its victims are not alcoholics.

It is hard to know the hard reality of NAFLD’s prevalence. There are estimations, however: in Europe the range of potential NAFLD patients is between 20 and 44 % in the general population, but the numbers increase dramatically with the overweight or obese and those with type 2 diabetes. Along with obesity epidemic, NAFLD is growing in children, too.

Signs of fatty liver

One can have fatty liver and not know about it. Once the symptoms start showing, the disease has usually already progressed. Unexplained fatigue, pain on the right side of abdomen are usually the first signs. You should be alarmed if there’s abdominal swelling, visible veins on the skin’s surface, enlarged breasts in men, red palms and yellowish eyes – seek medical help as soon as possible.

Approaching liver health with a diet

The first and the most efficient way to protect your liver health is a healthy diet, stress management and regular exercise. Please, don’t fall for the liver cleansing pills that get marketed to unsuspecting people who just want protect their health.
There is a very simple recipe for protecting your liver and you don’t need to spend a dime on snake’s oil concoctions.

Ditch the carbs

Swedish researchers studied 10 overweight individuals with NAFLD. They put them on a low-carb diet without energy restriction for two weeks. The paper, published in Cell Metabolism, reports dramatic reductions of liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors after mere 3 days. Additionally, they report:

  • marked decrease of new lipid droplets in the liver,
  • increased mitochondrial oxidation,
  • improved microbiota with increases in beneficial folate producing bacteria (Mardinoglu et al.).

Fatty liver? Eat less carbs!

MARDINOGLU, A. et al. An Integrated Understanding of the Rapid Metabolic Benefits of a Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet on Hepatic Steatosis in Humans. Cell Metabolism, vol., no., pp., 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.01.005

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