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What is Diet Good for Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver disease (FLD) is becoming a severe chronic metabolic disease globally, affecting a massive number of people. One of the significant ways to treat fatty liver disease regardless of its type is to develop a plant-based diet. This post will discuss what diet is good for fatty liver and is coffee good for fatty liver disease!
The liver is the largest solid and most overworked organ in the human body. A healthy liver is also crucial to survival. It plays an essential role in metabolic processes, and about 15% of blood in the human body flows through the liver’s filtering cells known as hepatocytes.
Apart from that, the liver is also crucial to keep the bloodstream clean and to convert or breaking down substances. Through these tasks, it is up to the liver’s health to decide how to process, store, or eliminate the foods you consume. What’s more, the liver also contributes to a complicated system that creates an immune system, helping your body to resist glycogen (excessive blood sugar levels) and infections.
Considering the workload and functions that our liver performs, it is essential to keep it healthy by developing a healthy diet.
Fatty Liver Disease (FLD)
Fatty liver disease (FLD) means when the liver starts storing excessive fat in the cells than it should. A specific amount of fat in the liver is acceptable, but the liver is considered fatty when there is more than five percent fat. Although a fatty liver performs its functions typically, its progress can be affected over time.
What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?
Apart from genetic factors, people are more at risk of developing FLD if they have any of the following:
- Excessive Consumption of Alcohol: Alcoholic fatty liver causes excessive fat in the liver cells because of excessive drinking. In this case, your physician may suggest you stop consuming alcohol to see if it can help.
- Obesity: People with high sugar levels and are diagnosed with obesity have a significant risk of developing fatty liver disease.
- High Blood Sugar or Insulin Resistance: People who are diabetic, prediabetic, or with insulin resistance are more likely to have fatty liver disease.
- Higher Triglyceride Levels: Triglycerides are among the most significant contributors that help to store more fatty acids in the blood cells and plasma. Since the human liver is a vital organ for fatty acid metabolism, high triglyceride levels mean you are far more likely to develop fatty liver disease.
Plant-Based Diet for Fatty Liver Disease
During the last couple of decades, the consumption of plant-based food (vegan diet) has been rapidly increased. Currently, the central focus of the world’s food industry is to provide high-quality plant-based nutrition that is beneficial for the human body. Since the FLD means more fat in the liver, a plant-based diet is known for its high-fiber, low-fat properties that help alleviate fatty liver disease.
Vegan diets, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, help manage high blood sugar levels and treat insulin resistance. Since the fiber is present only in plant-based foods, eating salads, beans, oatmeal, chickpeas, etc., also reduces the risk of developing FLD.
Here are some plant-based foods for fatty liver disease:
Vegan Foods for Fatty Liver Disease
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Making green leafy veggies a part of your diet is beneficial to prevent the risk of developing fatty liver disease. During research in mice, PNAS researchers noted that how the consumption of inorganic nitrate occurs in various leafy vegetables prevents fat accumulation in the liver.
The research further noted that a high intake of inorganic nitrate found in vegetables reduces blood pressure while improving insulin and glucose homeostasis. Although more evidence is required to confirm the role of inorganic nitrate, the researchers can still suggest consuming more green leafy veggies, such as broccoli, lettuce, and spinach.
2. Blueberries and Cranberries
Both blueberries and cranberries are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins, giving them their distinctive colours. They offer various health benefits as well. Some studies in animals have shown that blueberries and cranberries as a whole or their juices can significantly improve liver health.
Consuming these fruits for a month protects the liver from damage. Moreover, they can also increase antioxidant enzymes and immune cell response. Another research demonstrated that antioxidants found in blueberries could significantly slow the development of fibrosis and lesions.
Furthermore, blueberries extract has been shown to inhibit liver cancer cells. However, the experiment is conducted in mice, so more research is needed in humans to determine that the same effects can be replicated in the human liver.
Making blueberries and cranberries a part of your vegan diet is a great way to supply antioxidants to your needs.
3. Prickly Pear
The extract of prickly pear has long been used to treat ulcers, wounds, liver disease, and fatigue. A 2004 research indicated that the extract of prickly pear helped decrease hangover symptoms. Participants in this research experienced less dry mouth, nausea, and lack of appetite.
The research concluded that the effects were due to reduced inflammation, which commonly occurs after consuming alcohol. Another study in mice demonstrated that extract of this plant could help normalize cholesterol and enzyme levels. Recent research in rats found that prickly pear juice protects the liver against the adverse effects of alcohol.
Prickly pear juice may help decrease oxidative damage and liver injury after consuming alcohol. Although more research is required, especially using this plant’s juice rather than its extract, the researchers thus far found that prickly pear helps keep the liver healthy.
If you want to add some fiber to your diet, make sure to include oatmeal consumption in your diet. Fiber is a crucial tool for the digestive system, and fibers in oatmeal may help heal the liver. Moreover, oats and oatmeal are rich in beta-glucans that are beneficial for liver health.
A 2017 research reported that beta-glucans are biologically active in the body. They also contribute to modulate the immune system and prevent inflammation. The research further noted that beta-glucans in oats are also helpful in reducing the fat in the liver. However, more clinical research is required to determine the same benefits in humans.
Garlic is an essential item that you should include in your vegan diet to treat fatty liver. Supplementing your diet with garlic capsules are beneficial in reducing the weight and fat in people suffering from NAFLD.
Another easy approach to keep your liver healthy is to include nuts in your vegan diet. Nuts are rich in essential vitamins, antioxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids. These compounds help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress.
Avocado is rich in healthy fats, and the study confirms the presence of chemicals that help reduce liver damage. They also contain fiber, which is crucial for weight control. If you are suffering from fatty liver disease, make sure to try avocado and mushroom salad in your vegan diet for fatty liver.
Carrots are among the top sources that contain carotenoids (beta-carotene), which is converted into vitamin A. Carotenoids are also beneficial for liver health. Since the liver produces bile to eliminate wastes, it stays in the liver until fats enter the intestine and trigger to release bile.
Studies have confirmed that beta-carotene helps reduce liver damage caused by alcohol.
9. Sunflower Seeds
These nutty-tasting sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, an essential antioxidant that helps prevent liver damage. Not only do sunflower seeds provide protection, but they also add a fantastic texture when sprinkled over a salad.
If you are considering becoming a vegan to treat fatty liver disease but still want to get your omega-3 fatty acids without consuming fish, make sure to include walnuts in your diet. Some studies noted that people with fatty liver disease who consume walnuts have significantly improved their liver function.
Apples are a rich source of a chemical known as pectin. It helps detoxify the body. Moreover, the presence of polyphenols helps eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, they also protect your liver.
Drinks for Fatty Liver Disease
Here is a list of some best foods that you can drink to prevent the risk of fatty liver:
1. Green Tea (For Fat Absorption)
Green tea is considered beneficial for overall health, but some studies indicate that it also offers benefits to your liver health. One Japanese study suggests that drinking at least five cups of green tea improves blood markers of the liver.
Another study in people suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found that consuming green tea high in antioxidants for a couple of weeks can improve liver enzyme levels. It may also help to reduce oxidative stress and fat buildups in the liver.
Moreover, besides treating fatty liver disease, drinking at least four cups of green tea may also prevent developing liver cancer.
2. Grapes and Grape Juice (For Increasing Antioxidant Levels)
Grapes, especially purple and red, are rich in a variety of healthy plant compounds. However, the most popular one is resveratrol, which offers a range of health benefits. Several studies have found that grapes and grape juice can significantly improve liver health.
For instance, one study indicates that grape juice helps lower inflammation, increase antioxidant levels, and prevent damage. Another smaller study found that consuming supplements with grape seed extracts for two to three months helps improve liver functions.
3. Beetroot Juice ( For Reducing Oxidative Damage and Inflammation)
Beetroot juice is a rich source of antioxidants and nitrates (betalains), which besides improving liver functionality and reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, is also helpful in improving heart health. So, it is safe to say that eating beets would also offer similar health benefits.
However, the rat studies found that beetroot juice helps increase natural detoxification enzymes, oxidative damage, and inflammation in the liver. Some other benefits of consuming beetroot juice in animals studies have been observed and replicated in human studies.
4. Olive Oil (For Weight Control)
Olive oil is a beneficial fat because of its various health benefits, including heart and metabolic health. Besides that, it also has positive effects on the liver. A smaller study in ten people suffering from NAFLD found that consuming 6.5 ml (1 teaspoon) of olive oil improves fat and liver enzyme levels.
Moreover, it also higher the protein levels associated with metabolic effects. Participants in the study also had better blood flow and less fat accumulation in the liver. Some recent studies also found similar benefits of olive oil in humans, including improved blood levels, better insulin sensitivity, and less fat accumulation in the liver.
Since fat accumulation in the liver is the first step towards fatty liver disease, olive oil prevents fat buildups from keeping the liver healthy.
Is Coffee Good for Fatty Liver?
So, is coffee good for fatty liver? Well, there is a lot of argument about it. However, authentic research says that people who consume coffee daily have fewer chances of developing cirrhosis than those who don’t drink coffee.
A study conducted in mice states that adding coffee to the diet of those suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) could help reverse the condition. The study further noted that the daily dose of at least six cups of coffee could improve essential markers of NAFLD in mice with a high-fat diet. Moreover, these mice also gained weight less than others of the same diet without the dose of coffee.
Another study showed that how coffee helps in raising the levels of protein (Zonulin), lessening the gut’s permeability. Researchers believe that higher gut permeability is associated with liver damage and worsens the NAFLD. Coffee wins again!
Some studies have indicated that coffee can also reverse NAFLD conditions, including liver cell degeneration (ballooning degeneration). Researchers examined three groups of mice for twelve weeks. Group one mice with a standard diet, group two with a fat diet, and group three received a high-fat diet along with decaffeinated coffee.
Coffee supplementation to a high-fat diet reversed the cholesterol levels, alanine aminotransferase, fat buildup in the liver cells, and ballooning degeneration. The coffee and high-fat diet combined significantly improved weight loss in the mice. This research offers excellent insights that can be helpful in future research to understand the therapeutic role of coffee in NAFLD.
Some other benefits that coffee offers include:
- Lower the risk of cirrhosis or liver damage.
- Reduces the risk of developing liver cancer.
- Lower the risk of death in people suffering from chronic liver disease.
- Prevents fat and collagen buildup.
- Decrease inflammation and increase antioxidant glutathione.
Foods to Avoid for Fatty Liver Disease
Just like the foods that you should include in your diet to treat fatty liver, there are some foods that you should avoid. These foods contribute to increased blood sugar and weight gain.
Alcohol: The biggest culprit that causes fatty liver disease is the consumption of alcohol.
Added Sugar: If you have fatty liver disease, make sure to stay away from sugary foods like cookies, candy, fruit juices, sodas, etc. It is because high blood sugar causes excessive fat buildup in the liver.
Salt: Using too much salt in your food can force your body to hold on to excess water. So, limit the use of salt to 1,200mg per day.
Red Meat: Stop eating beef and deli meat products because they have a high amount of saturated fat.
Rice, Pasta, and White Bread: Generally, white means the flour is excessively processed, increasing blood sugar levels because of a lack of fiber. Stick with whole grains including brown rice, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain cereals.
Healthy Liver, Happy You
That is all about what diet is good for fatty liver. Generally, foods that are helpful to fight cell damage make it possible for the body to use insulin, reduce inflammation, and reverse the condition. However, since every person has a different situation, you should consult with your doctor to develop a diet plan that is right for your liver health.