Your Largest Internal Organ
Did you know that your liver is the largest internal organ in your body?
Yep, it weighs approximately 3 – 3.5 pounds and is about the size of a football!
At any given moment, it’s holding about one pint of your body’s blood.
A healthy liver is crucial to our health; it filters and eliminates toxins in our blood, regulates cholesterol and triglyceride levels, produces bile which aids with digestion, and acts as a storage unit for glycogen (excess glucose), among other things.
Sadly, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is now affecting more adults – and children – than ever before.
What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to several liver conditions that develop in people who drink little or no alcohol. It’s defined as having of too much fat stored up in the liver cells that is not caused by alcohol.
According to the Liver Foundation, it’s normal for the liver to contain some fat. However, if more than 5% – 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called a fatty liver (steatosis).
The more severe form of NAFLD is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH causes the liver to swell and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure, very similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.
Becoming the norm?
Sadly, NAFLD is becoming increasingly common, especially in the United States. About 100 million Americans are estimated to be afflicted….
...as well as the kiddos. NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in children, and has more than DOUBLED over the past 20 years. The risk among children is about 3 – 10%, however, it’s estimated that 70-80% of obese children now have NAFLD.
Symptoms often include fatigue and pain in the upper right abdomen; however, people with NAFLD can remain asymptomatic for quite some time. Complications of the disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, fluid build-up, and mental confusion; unfortunately, NAFLD patients also have an 8x higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, among others. Prevalence is as high as 80% in obese adults, between 30-50% in diabetics, and as high as 90% in people with with high cholesterol.
Here’s the root cause and the biggest factor:
Diets with higher intakes of fats, oils, meat, dairy, and animal protein in general, are associated with higher liver enzymes; and fat intake, particularly saturated fat, significantly increases the risk of both NAFLD and NASH.
Diets high in excess sugar plays a big role too, as explained in this short video by Dr. Michael Greger.
What can be done?
Weight loss is imperative, but certain diets (such as the low carb, high-fat diets) can actually CAUSE or exacerbate NAFLD.
Weight Loss while eating a low-fat, high fiber, plant-based diet, filled with beans, legumes, starches, whole grains, fruits and veggies, can be an effective treatment for NAFLD. Studies have shown that such diets are effective for addressing the underlying conditions that lead to NAFLD.
I’d love to help you get started with eating the right foods….no deprivation, no lack of comfort foods, no lack of flavor, no calorie counting, and no going hungry!
If the thought of eating this way seems overwhelming or unattainable for you, let me encourage you that you CAN do this. If tip-toeing into the waters better suits you, my 6-week Transition Course would be an option to consider. It’s available with or without personal coaching from me.
When you’re ready, I’m ready. Watch this free webinar and then book a chat with me. No strings attached, I promise.
Things to Check Out
Dr. Greger’s Video: The Best Diet for Fatty Liver Disease Treatment
Note: Reference Sources available upon request.