I see many patients with a fatty liver and they often don’t know what to do about it. It may have been revealed on an ultrasound scan of the abdomen which was done by their doctor for a check up or for abdominal symptoms. In such cases the ultrasound scan often shows that the liver is enlarged with the fatty deposits building up within it and the spleen may become slightly enlarged as well.
Recently I saw a 50 year old woman in my practice who had a typical case of fatty liver in that she was overweight and fatigued. She also had bad psoriasis on her skin and a sallow complexion with dark circles under her eyes. Her biggest frustration was that when she went on a weight loss diet she would lose weight for a few weeks and then go into a weight loss plateau when the weight loss stopped. Exercise was not working and diet was not working and she gave up and started to eat all the wrong foods again. This patient was addicted to foods high in gluten and sugar and this was causing her fatty liver and also her psoriasis.
I explained to her that a weight loss plateau can be normal and may last several weeks, and during this time weight loss on the scales would cease. If she could persist beyond this time she would be successful, as weight loss would eventually resume. It takes time to get your liver function back to normal if you have a fatty liver. During this time metabolic changes are occurring in the body which will enable the liver to start burning fat again. So during the plateau the healing process is still working even though you are temporarily stuck with your weight. This will not last – so don’t give up!
To reverse a fatty liver several changes must occur in the body –
- Insulin levels must come down to normal – fasting insulin levels should be less than 12
- Liver inflammation must be reversed as this is damaging the liver cells – liver inflammation is seen by elevated levels of liver enzymes in the blood, especially the level of the enzyme ALT
- The detoxification pathways in the liver must be improved
- Bile flow must be improved
To lower insulin levels we need to follow a low carbohydrate diet – see my below the line diet
To reduce liver inflammation we can use a good liver formula containing St Mary’s Thistle, taurine, selenium and B group vitamins. Turmeric can also help. To provide extra antioxidants to repair liver inflammation we can use N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine and vitamin C. These supplements would also increase detoxification in the liver and improve bile production and flow. In people with a fatty liver who have lost their gallbladder, supplements of ox bile can be taken with meals, and this will help to reduce liver inflammation and improve digestion.
Organic apple cider vinegar can be taken in an amount of 10 to 20mls in the MIDDLE of the meals and this will improve digestion and lower insulin levels after the meal.
It is not hard to reverse a fatty liver and most patients with fatty liver will achieve a reversal within 6 to 12 months. Weight loss will continue to increase as the liver function improves.
The most common causes of fatty liver are –
- A diet too high in carbohydrates – namely sugar and grains (especially wheat, rye, barley and rice)
- A diet that lacks vegetables
- Medications – such as cholesterol lowering drugs, steroids, antacid medications and diuretics, and some diabetes medications
It is important to reverse a fatty liver as this will have many benefits such as –
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Lower blood sugar levels and better control of diabetes
- A reduction in cancer risk
- Improved immune function
My book titled Fatty Liver – You can reverse it gives you a program to reverse fatty liver. It has many delicious recipes and snack ideas