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Alice was shocked to hear the results of her yearly physical. She was a little more tired in the afternoon lately, and bloated after meals more often, but at 50 years old and carrying a few extra pounds, she brushed it off as normal. How could she have chronic liver disease? She rarely drank alcohol.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in the US, affecting almost 100 million people. Many people are asymptomatic, with no clue they have it until their routine blood tests show slightly elevated liver enzymes and the follow up ultrasound confirms the diagnosis. When symptoms do occur, they’re usually mild, like fatigue, nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, cellulite, leg swelling, and “brain fog,” making this a stealth disease that progresses without being noticed.
While there is no “magic pill” you can take to cure NAFLD, there are lifestyle changes you can make to support and improve the health of your liver. But before you can take your liver from fatty to skinny, you need to understand what’s going on in your liver that’s causing the disease.
NAFLD isn’t caused by alcohol or a virus, but is instead triggered by weight gain and insulin resistance. When your cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas secretes more and more of it to try to get blood sugar back in balance. This creates other metabolic imbalances that lead to higher levels of fatty acids in your blood. Your liver doesn’t make enough bile to process all of this extra fat and starts storing it instead, leading to fatty liver.
A fatty liver is a toxic liver. When your bile is congested or you’re not making enough, your liver can’t process all the toxins that it encounters and becomes toxic. It then sends all the excess toxins to be stored in your fat cells. Your fat cells swell with inflammation to dilute these toxins and this slows or halts your fat-burning metabolism. Once your body fat increases, these toxins also reduce collagen formation, which leads to cellulite production.
The only way to break this vicious cycle is to make the lifestyle changes that build more bile, support the liver’s detox pathways, and reverse insulin resistance. When given the right tools through these lifestyle changes, your liver can regenerate itself. Here are my 5 simple steps to put you on the path to a healthy, skinny liver.
Since insulin resistance started this whole mess, restoring insulin sensitivity is what will dig you out. Eliminating processed sugar of all types is essential for success. Sugar is highly addictive and it’s understandably difficult to break the habit – don’t worry, there’s help. I wrote a book entitled “Get the Sugar Out” to help you learn alternatives to your high sugar favorites both when eating at home and when dining out.
When it comes to insulin resistance and fatty liver, fructose is your enemy. Fructose has been clearly shown to cause fatty liver, using the same mechanism that alcohol does to cause liver damage. Not only is fructose found naturally in whole fruits and fruit juices, but it’s a main ingredient in soft drinks and is often hiding in everything from lunch meats and sausages to packaged seasoning mixes and juice blends. Learning to become a label sleuth and finding this hidden foe is essential to restoring health to your liver.
There nothing more important to your fat metabolism than healthy bile. It’s also essential for good fat digestion, nutrient absorption, detoxification, hormone balance, proper thyroid function, appetite suppression, and quelling those sugar cravings. In fact, Harvard University research shows that when women improve the health of their bile, their overall metabolism increases by an amazing 53 percent! It is this research that inspired my Radical Metabolism, a must-read for anyone with a sluggish metabolism, inflammatory illnesses, or issues with fat digestion.
Bile should be thin, golden, and free-flowing, with a quart or more being made every day. But, bile issues have become an epidemic, with many adults not making more than a pint of this “liquid gold” and having it quickly become thick and sludgy. Bile flow is regulated by the gallbladder, so if you’re having gallbladder symptoms or missing your gallbladder entirely, then you are sure to have insufficient bile flow.
UNI KEY Health’s Bile Builder was created just for you to help restore healthy bile and optimize your fat digestion. Its key ingredient, choline, is essential for liver health. Multiple studies show that choline deficiency, by itself, is a cause of fatty liver. Beef liver, eggs, and lecithin are rich sources of choline, but I recommend supplementation along with these dietary sources once you’ve been diagnosed with NAFLD.
Some of the most powerful healing foods that help us build better bile, detox our cells, absorb essential nutrients, and stimulate our digestive juices are the foods and drinks we classify as “bitters.” Spring greens like dandelion, arugula, baby kale, and watercress, along with some of our favorite indulgences like coffee and cacao (bitter chocolate) set off a chain reaction of healing effects that lead to your liver being able to flush out the toxins it would normally need to store in fat cells. This thwarts the progression of NAFLD and helps get your liver back on track.
The fat that builds up in your liver is toxic and inflammatory, and anti-inflammatory essential Omega 3 and 6 fats can help quell the inflammation and reverse the vicious cycle that leads to NAFLD. Supplements like GLA-90 and Super-EPA from UNI KEY Health are excellent sources of these much needed fats. They are also found in fatty fish from pristine waters, grassfed meats, free range eggs, and organic nuts, seeds, and their oils.
Exercise not only helps you lose the weight associated with insulin resistance and NAFLD, but it directly reduces the fat in the liver. According to the 2017 European Congress on Obesity, simply exercising daily is enough to reduce fat in the liver. You don’t have to join a crossfit gym or run a marathon. Even small amounts of daily physical activity will start burning fat in the liver and helping your cells become more insulin sensitive.
For a daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more… check out my Radical Health Tips.