fatty liver

Fatty liver - is it a serious problem

A fatty liver does not hurt. For a long time it may not give any symptoms. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences - inflammatory changes, fibrosis and even cirrhosis of this organ and increases the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

What does steatosis of the liver mean?

Liver disease can affect more than just people who are overweight or consume alcohol. Underlying non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are poor diet and low physical activity. Fatty liver disease can be accompanied by overweight or obesity and associated metabolic disorders, most commonly: insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and hypothyroidism.

How to recognize steatosis of the liver?

The diagnosis is made by the doctor on the basis of an assessment of risk factors, blood tests (ALT alanine aminotransferase activity maintaining >30 IU/l in men and >19 IU/l in women) and the presence of steatosis features on ultrasound.

NAFLD has been taking on an epidemic form in recent years and has been decisively linked to lifestyle. Therefore, the cornerstone of NAFLD prevention is lifestyle changes including: changing eating habits, maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing physical activity to a minimum of 150 minutes per week, 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and reducing stress.

Steatosis of the liver diet

Studies show that the most beneficial diet in hepatic steatosis is the Mediterranean diet, in overweight individuals with moderately reduced caloric intake, resulting in a weight reduction of about 0.5 kg/week. Faster weight loss is inadvisable and may contribute to the progression of liver lesions. Importantly, the benefits of following the principles of this diet can also be achieved without caloric restriction, making only qualitative changes alone.

The basis of the Mediterranean diet is:

  • Vegetables - a minimum of 400 g per day,
  • Whole-grain cereal products (coarse-grain cereals, whole-grain flours, low-processed flakes such as oatmeal),
  • Low-fat unsweetened dairy products,
  • Legumes (beans, soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, peas),
  • Fish and seafood, lean meat,
  • Vegetable oils (e.g., olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil),
  • fruit.

It is worthwhile to have green leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, arugula, lamb's lettuce, kale, parsley) on the menu every day, such as in the form of salads, green smoothies, vegetable juices, dishes sprinkled generously with greens.

Studies show that in fatty liver, the consumption of unprocessed nuts of 30 grams per day can be beneficial. Nuts contain fats that are beneficial to our bodies, as do seeds, seeds, vegetable oils and fatty marine fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, herring, halibut).

What not to eat with a fatty liver?

Sugar in any formshould definitely disappear from the menu: sweets, cakes, cookies, sugar added to sweeten, honey, sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, sweetened cereal products, e.g. granola, breakfast cereals, sweetened dairy products, e.g. yogurts, flavored milk, homogenized cheese. Processed foods, fast food, instant food, bakery products, chips, crackers, fatty meats and meats, sausages, butter, lard, coconut and palm oil are also inadvisable. Alcohol, too, should be eliminated or at least severely restricted, not only because of its sheer toxicity to the liver, but the significant proportion of sugar in it and/or the increase in sugar intake when consumed.

While taking care of the liver, we should not forget about proper diet, physical activity, mental hygiene, but also proper hydration. The basis of hydration should be water, while nothing prevents supplementing it with green tea and sugar-free coffee. A discovery in recent years is the beneficial effect on the liver of drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, preferably filtered or from an espresso machine.

If you need expert advice - welcome
Nutritionist Natalia Parulska, M.Sc.

The information contained in this article is for general information and educational purposes. They are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you consult your doctor or other qualified health care professional for advice on your specific symptoms, ailments or condition.