There are a number of natural foods and dietary modifications which can help to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD) and to support liver health.
What Is Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a term for a range of conditions caused by an excessive build-up of fat in the liver.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is fast becoming one of the leading causes of liver disease in Western society and the typical hypercaloric highly processed Western diet is largely to blame for this.
Risk Factors For Developing Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
The most common and major established risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia.
Other factors associated with the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include certain medications, nutritional deficiencies(choline etc), hepatitis and gut disorders such as increased intestinal permeability.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is now considered to be a hepatic manifestation and consequence of metabolic syndrome.
5 Foods For Fatty Liver Disease
Here are some of the foods with the strongest evidence-base for being able to support liver health and to prevent, attenuate, modify and treat NAFLD.
1. Bitter Herbs
Bitter herbs are one of the best herbal and natural interventions for supporting liver health and preventing fatty liver disease.
Examples of bitter herbs include gentian, andrographis, artichoke, dandelion and milk thistle.
When bitter herbs come in contact with the bitter receptors located towards the back of the tongue, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which in turn stimulate the digestive process and the release of stomach acid, pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile.
This increase in bile flow is excellent for “cleansing” the liver and preventing the likes of fatty liver from occurring. Digestive bitter herbs are a time honored remedy in Europe, especially for preventing indigestion after heavy-fat rich meals.
A number of studies have now recognized coffee as having hepatoprotective properties, whilst potentially reducing the risk and progression of liver diseases.
Coffee has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties.
Moderation coffee consumption has been shown to increase levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione plays crucial roles in the detoxification and antioxidant systems of cells and has been used to treat acute poisoning and chronic liver diseases by intravenous injection.
Research has also found that coffee may be associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, so there are many potential health benefits for those with fatty liver who enjoy a cup of coffee in moderation.
Always go with regular organic black coffee, as coffee that is sweetened with lots of refined sugars and saturated fats can potentially increase the risk of developing fatty liver.
3. Lecithin & Choline
Lecithin is another of my favorite “superfoods” for supporting liver health and in particular preventing a build-up of fat in the liver.
Lecithin is a great source of phospholipids such as phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidyl inositol, phosphatidyl ethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid.
Poor hepatic choline/phosphatidylcholine availability has now shown to play a potential role in the pathophysiology of NAFLD.
4. Probiotics & Prebiotics
A massive body of research has now implicated a dysfunctional gut microbiome in the pathophysiology of NAFLD.
Imbalances in the gut flora may promote fatty liver through a number of different mechanisms such as increasing intestinal permeability aka causing “leaky gut syndrome”, activating inflammatory cytokines, producing endogenous ethanol and affecting choline and bile acid metabolism.
Prebiotic fibers are a group of non-digestible carbohydrates found in foods such as oat bran, garlic, bananas, asparagus, leek, chicory root and onions.
My favorite prebiotic fiber rich food is a tablespoon or two of oat bran daily. Oat bran is a gentle prebiotic fiber source, which studies find is well tolerated even in ulcerative colitis patients as an intervention for increasing levels of faecal short chain fatty acids such as butyrate.
One of my favorite probiotic supplements for repopulating the gut flora is Replete by Biocare. Replete is a professional grade probiotic supplement that contains the LAB4 complex of live bacteria and delivers 130 billion viable cells per sachet.
5. Olive Oil, Monounsaturated Fatty Acids & The Mediterranean Diet
The traditional Mediterranean diet pattern which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids from foods such as olive oil, nuts and avocados can help to prevent fatty liver disease through a variety of mechanisms, most notably the ability to prevent the likes of risk factors such as metabolic syndrome.
Diets which are excessively rich in saturated fats can increase the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and saturated fats have actually shown to be worse for liver health than both simple sugars and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fat intake is correlated with an impaired glutathione metabolism towards oxidative stress leading to NAFLD progression.
The Mediterranean diet and monounsaturated fat rich foods such as olive oil and nuts significantly reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome.
These foods such as extra virgin olive oil are also packed with polyphenols which have potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties helping to address increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Both of which play key roles in the pathogenesis of liver diseases.
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 Impact of Nutritional Changes on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.