Everyone learns at school that the liver is a vital organ in the human body. Frequently, liver damage is referred to as high alcohol consumption and the dreaded cirrhosis of the liver is suspected. However, it is still unknown to many that the preliminary stage of such a disease can not only be traced back to this.
Fatty liver is the most common liver disease in the western states and is the precursor to further serious organ damage. This article is intended to explain the clinical picture of fatty liver in more detail and to introduce you to the fatty liver diet as a suitable measure against it. You will also receive valuable information and tips about the fatty liver diet and its underlying disease.
- The term fatty liver refers to a disease of the liver which is caused by a high accumulation of fat molecules in the liver cells.
- The disease is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle or certain pre-existing conditions and can be effectively combated with the help of a fatty liver diet.
- The focus of the diet is primarily on a healthy change in diet which consists of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. In addition, preference should be given to drinking water and exercising regularly.
What is a fatty liver diet?
Fatty liver is a disease of the liver, which is characterized by a strong storage of fat in the liver cells. The main job of the liver is to purify the blood and convert nutrients. If the liver becomes increasingly fatty, it can no longer fulfill its essential tasks in the body.
In this context, a fatty liver diet tries to lower the stored fat percentage in the liver with the help of a suitable diet in connection with sport. The focus of the diet is a low-carbohydrate diet with lots of vegetables.
If a fatty liver is not counteracted, the organ can be permanently scarred and its vital function of detoxification can be restricted. So something should definitely be done against fatty liver, otherwise there is a risk of serious long-term physical damage.
What you need to know about the fatty liver diet
Before we give you tips on how to go on a fatty liver diet, you should acquire some background information about this diet and the fatty liver disease.
We want to answer these frequently asked questions for you in the following paragraphs.
Why is the liver fatty at all?
Fatty liver is the most common chronic liver disease in Germany, the main cause of which is often an unhealthy lifestyle. In addition to this, drugs and other diseases can contribute to the development.
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Excessive carbohydrate intake or regular alcohol consumption
- Medication: Some medications can put a lot of strain on the liver
- Diseases: Type 2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome in particular can lead to the development of fatty liver
The exact biological process that causes liver disease is not yet fully understood. It is fairly clear that there is an imbalance between calorie intake and calorie consumption in the body, causing too many fats to accumulate in the liver cells.
These fatty acids are produced by the liver itself from the food it eats. Usually these fatty acids are burned quickly to provide energy for the body. Because more fat is stored in the liver than burned, fatty liver can form in the long term.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver?
The symptoms do not follow a clear pattern, which is why fatty liver diseases often go unnoticed for a long time. This means that the disease can develop in the body for years without those affected having to deal with symptoms.
The liver can swell more than twice as much if it is too fatty.
It is often the case that the sick do not show any symptoms until the fatty organ becomes inflamed at some point. Only when this happens can the fatty liver be detected in the blood, as the liver values increase significantly. Therefore, the development of fatty liver often goes unnoticed.
In general, the symptoms of fatty liver are rather unspecific and are most likely to be expressed as a feeling of fullness or pressure in the liver region. Often the sick perceive a general reduction in performance and loss of drive. As the disease progresses, people may experience yellowing of the skin, pain, nausea, and vomiting.
What is the course of a fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver is defined as the fact that more than 5 percent of the liver cells have stored fat. Then there is talk of a “simple fatty liver”. It is caused by a permanently high level of fat molecules that accumulate in the liver.
The scarring of the liver is called cirrhosis
The greatest danger in this course of the disease is the transition from fatty liver to inflammatory fibrosis, which is then called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH for short.
This restricts the function of the liver, in order to compensate for this it begins to enlarge, which can lead to further problems.
In order to measure the exact amount of fatty tissue in the liver, a fine tissue sample must be taken from the organ. This allows the exact severity of the disease to be measured. It is broadly divided into three degrees of severity:
- Mild fatty liver: Less than a third of liver cells are fatty.
- Medium fatty liver: More than a third but less than two thirds of the liver cells are fatty.
- Severe fatty liver: More than two thirds of liver cells are fatty
The greater the severity of the disease, the greater the likelihood that serious sequelae will develop.
What are the causes of fatty liver?
The causes of fatty liver can be very diverse. Often the development is related to an unhealthy lifestyle and poor physical condition. Regular alcohol consumption, diabetes and obesity are often mentioned in connection with the development.
For non-alcoholic fatty liver both eating habits and clinical pictures are seen as the main causes. The biggest factors that contribute to this condition are as follows.
- Insulin resistance
- High calorie intake
- Little sport
- Impaired lipid metabolism
In many cases it is an interplay of many factors that contribute to the development and the course.
What is alcoholic fatty liver?
The clinical picture is described under alcoholic fatty liver disease when chronic alcohol abuse is considered to be the main cause.
Women break down alcohol more slowly than men.
With an alcohol consumption of 20 grams of alcohol for women or 30 grams of alcohol for men per day, it is assumed that the consumption contributes significantly to the development.
Alcohol tolerance also depends on many other individual factors. This makes it difficult to say in general how much alcohol is harmful to a person in the long run. The values given here are average values from nutrition experts.
Is diet alone the decisive factor in the development of fatty liver?
As mentioned earlier, the wrong diet can play a major role in causing fatty liver disease. However, this does not always have to be the case. Obesity in the liver can also occur as a secondary disease of a metabolic disorder or certain forms of diabetes.
Diet-related fatty liver diseases tend to develop over many years, unlike other causes.
How long does it take for fatty liver to recover?
In general, this is difficult to say because it depends on the severity of the fatty liver. As soon as such a disease is discovered or suspected, it makes sense to change your diet. As a rule, the fewer calories the body supplies, the faster the liver recovers.
The liver is the only organ that has the ability to regenerate its cell mass independently after a few weeks. This increases the benefits of a change in eating habits and a damaged liver can recover in a few weeks.
Tips & tricks for a successful fatty liver diet
To avoid a possible fatty liver, you can integrate a fatty liver diet into your nutrition plan.
We will describe this form of diet to you in more detail in the following paragraph.
Proper nutrition in a fatty liver diet
Probably the most important approach to fighting fatty liver disease is to change your diet and deal with your own harmful eating habits. The focus is on a low-calorie diet in order to counteract the further intake of fats into the liver.
These foods should form the basis of your daily diet on a fatty liver diet.
- Vegetables: carrots, cabbage, beetroot, beans, broccoli
- Low-sugar fruits: grapefruit, berries, apples, peaches
- Whole grain products: try to avoid any white flour
- Low-fat and high-protein foods: nuts and legumes, yogurt, low-fat quark
Vegetables and fruits should not be missing in any healthy diet and are also the main food in the fatty liver diet. The vegetables should be prepared gently by boiling or cooking them. With fruit, you should make sure that it is low in sugar and that you don’t consume too much.
Whole grain products contain fewer short-chain carbohydrates such as glucose, fructose and sucrose, which are strongly related to the development of fatty liver. These are mainly found in products made from white flour, as well as in sweets and lemonades.
A covered protein requirement is part of a healthy diet. In connection with a fatty liver diet, it is important to ensure that the foods are particularly low in fat. Very fatty cheeses should be avoided, as well as sugared dairy products. It is best to reach for the unsweetened classics in the refrigerated shelf.
This is what you should drink on a fatty liver diet
It should have become clear that excessive alcohol consumption can severely impair the liver and lead to obesity. Therefore, alcoholic beverages should be avoided completely. All sugared drinks such as soft drinks and soft drinks should also be avoided.
Most juices contain a lot of sugar, even if this is natural fructose, it can add larger amounts to a damaged liver. It is best to stick to small amounts and drink a spritzer more often.
Drinking only still water and light, unsweetened teas is most beneficial to the rapid recovery of the liver. A study also found that one or two cups of filter coffee can have a positive effect on a fatty liver diet.
It is even healthier if you do not use plastic bottles. This also protects you against microplastics and plasticizers.
What to Avoid in Your Diet
Give your body the chance to recover and regenerate, which is why you should completely refrain from some things and habits.
- Alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Sweet snacks
- Long periods without physical exercise
Quitting alcohol, tobacco, and drugs is essential to a successful fatty liver diet. This not only benefits your body directly, but also gives you the feeling of being in control of yourself again after a short time. Which then also has a positive effect on your state of mind.
Avoid eating irregularly, especially small snacks in between can add up over a longer period of time and noticeably reduce your progress. For a good and fast result, it is important that you behave with a strong will and critically question your eating behavior.
In addition to your eating style, you can also adapt your lifestyle positively to the diet. A healthy diet will not lead to long-term success without physical activity. Try to integrate exercise into your everyday life in order to get your body used to a healthy lifestyle also physically.
Create an individual diet plan for yourself
One measure that can significantly assist you in following a fatty liver diet is a diet plan. You can create this yourself relatively easily or with the technical support of doctors and nutrition experts.
There is now a wide range of diet apps, look around to see if you can find something suitable there.
You don’t have to plan your entire month meticulously, it is enough if you remember your diet and the goals associated with it by writing down. Start by writing down what you ate and drank. Then you can further consider what you want to eat for the next few days. You will see that you quickly get used to what you have to pay attention to when shopping and how much less food you get by with.
Then you can make your plan more and more in-depth, for example, plan sports activities. After a while you will be able to look back on your nutritional development and consider it with you and others in a reflective way.
Summary: Fatty Liver Diet
Unrecognized fatty liver disease can have serious consequences. The increased storage of fat molecules in the liver cells can lead to serious damage. In addition to easily inflammatory fibrosis of the liver, scar tissue can also form, which manifests itself in liver cirrhosis. As a result, the liver can no longer perform its vital functions.
However, liver disease can usually be brought under control again through a targeted change in diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. The top priority is to avoid alcohol and sugar. A low-calorie diet combined with exercise and the goal of losing weight has often proven to be the most effective means of combating fatty liver disease.