Fatty liver is a condition affecting millions worldwide. There are two main types: Alcoholic fatty liver disease, caused by excessive alcohol consumption and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects people who consume little or no alcohol. Since there is no proven treatment for fatty liver, natural home remedies and lifestyle changes are the most effective options for managing fatty liver. This article explores eight effective home remedies you can try to manage the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
What is NAFLD?
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver cells of people who do not consume alcohol or consume it in moderate amounts.
It is a common condition affecting millions worldwide and is often associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. While early-stage NAFLD is benign and does no harm, the disease can progress from simple fatty liver to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), where inflammation and liver cell damage occur. In severe cases, NASH can lead to liver scarring, cirrhosis, and liver cancer or failure.
Why do you get NAFLD?
There is no single cause for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), but several factors can increase the risk of developing the condition. Some common risk factors are:
- People who are obese or overweight are at a higher risk of developing NAFLD. Excess body weight increases the amount of fat in the liver.
- Insulin resistance is a condition when the body does not use insulin effectively. Being insulin resistant can significantly increase the risk of fatty liver disease. Hence, if you have type 2 diabetes, you may likely develop NAFLD.
- High levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat and can cause fat to build up in the liver. High levels of other blood fats, such as cholesterol, also contribute to NAFLD.
- Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions, including obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, increasing the risk of NAFLD.
- A sedentary lifestyle and the absence of an exercise schedule can lead to NAFLD.
- A diet high in sugar and saturated fats can accumulate fat in the liver.
- Genetics and family history play a role in the development of NAFLD. People with a history of liver disease are more likely to develop NAFLD.
- Medical conditions such as sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and hypothyroidism may also increase the risk of NAFLD.
- Rapid weight loss and malnutrition can also cause the liver to store fat, leading to NAFLD.
- A 2019 study found that low vitamin D may increase the risk and severity of NAFLD.
Home remedies to prevent and manage Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a preventable condition. Lifestyle changes and home remedies can help reduce the risk of developing it. There are effective natural remedies to manage fatty liver as well. Here are the top 8 home remedies to manage Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a proven remedy to manage NAFLD. Regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce liver fat and inflammation, and lower the risk of developing NAFLD.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a combination of aerobics and resistance training to reduce liver fat significantly.
If you have never been into exercise, a 15-minute brisk walk twice daily is a good start. Or, walk whenever possible – walk to the grocer, park your car at the farthest point, take the stairs, etc.
2. Reduce weight
Significant weight loss can improve NAFLD. Calorie restriction along with Time-restricted eating hugely helps in weight loss goals. In addition, several yoga poses help you lose visceral fat around your abdomen, reducing liver fat as well.
3. Follow a healthy diet
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins & healthy fats can help prevent NAFLD. Limiting the intake of processed foods, added sugars, and saturated fats is also essential. Following a Mediterranean diet can be a healthy start to managing fatty liver.
4. Drink green tea
Green tea is one of the popular health beverages due to its rich antioxidant properties. A 2016 study shows that green tea improves serum levels (ALT and AST) of the liver and hence is beneficial for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Consuming 2-3 cups of green tea every day is recommended.
5. Say hello to Java
Coffee is yet another delicious home remedy for NAFLD. Another 2016 study found that drinking coffee also has beneficial effects on liver enzymes, improving non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Black coffee without sugar is the best option. Two to three cups of coffee a day seems to be the optimal amount to improve liver health.
6. Consume probiotics
Consuming probiotics is another effective natural remedy to manage the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Evidence suggests that improving intestinal microbiota quantitatively and qualitatively with probiotics can help improve NAFLD. So probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, and kimchi, can help improve gut health, which is linked to liver health.
7. Herbal remedies
Ancient medicine systems such as Ayurveda and TCM recommend a few powerful herbs to manage the fatty liver disease. Some of them are milk thistle, ginseng, turmeric, liquorice, ginger, danshen, gingko biloba, and astralagus.
Since these herbs may be potentially dangerous when taken in excess dosages, taking them under expert guidance is extremely important.
8. Get vitamin D
Research evidence suggests that vitamin D supplementation can significantly improve fatty liver. Hence, exposure to sunlight and vitamin D supplements in case of vitamin D deficiency are potential remedies to manage NAFLD.
9. Avoid alcohol and stop smoking
Alcohol and smoking are found to worsen NAFLD. Hence, NAFLD patients are generally recommended not to consume alcohol at all for fear of aggravating the condition. In addition, quitting smoking can help manage the disease.
A healthy weight, a combination of exercises, such as aerobics, resistance training, and yoga, following a healthy diet comprising whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, low sugar and salt, and avoiding alcohol will ensure a healthy liver. In addition, get sunlight daily, drink coffee and green tea, and consider herbal remedies to protect liver health.
Once diagnosed, managing the condition and preventing it from progressing is the most important, and that is when these home remedies will help you hugely.