Fatty liver disease is characterized by an accumulation of fat in the liver, as the name implies. There are two main types of fatty liver disease:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease (also called alcoholic steatohepatitis)
Fatty liver diseases can be identified when the liver consists of at least 10% fat, however the source of the accumulation of fat varies from one type to another.
The cause of alcoholic fatty liver disease is obvious. The quantity of alcohol necessary to produce fatty deposits in the liver is not easily discernible. The Liver Foundation proposes that men limit their intake of alcohol to no more than 14 drinks over a 7 day period, and women no more than 7. Excess amounts of anything could cause the accumulation of fat in the liver.
The way to cure alcoholic fatty liver disease is to cease consuming alcohol. Research has shown that discontinuing drinking can reverse alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The origin and remedy of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are not clear. There are a variety of elements responsible for the accumulation of fat in the liver, not just alcohol.
Fatty Liver Disease
Approximately one fifth to one third of grown-ups in advanced countries have non-alcohol related fatty liver disorder, however the components that cause it have not yet been completely comprehended. We can use analogous diseases to gain insight into this phenomenon.
It has been found that a large number of individuals who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – the percentage of those afflicted is between 62 and 69%. A different research discovered that half of individuals with dyslipidemia (unusually high cholesterol levels) suffered from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
There is a strong correlation between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. The primary cause of mortality in those suffering from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is heart disease.
We find five conditions that usually appear with NASH: type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiac condition, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome.
It is extremely interesting that obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome are all interrelated. These issues are a result of a combination of factors such as lifestyle, heredity, and issues associated with the human digestive system. Researchers think that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease follows the same rule.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Causes
It remains a mystery precisely what brings about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but we can safely say that lifestyle choices, heredity, and intestine health are significant contributors.
Consuming an excessive amount of food and participating in minimal physical activity oftentimes leads to the development of insulin resistance. This is an influential factor for fat buildup in the liver.
In a body that is insulin resistant, there is an excessive amount of fatty acids being released from fat cells and an accumulation of sugar in the blood. The surplus of fatty acids and sugar from both the circulation of the blood and from the food consumed are taken in by the liver, where they are consequently morphed into fat and placed in reserve.
As long as the liver, muscles, and fat cells are not responding to insulin, a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream and fat in the liver will remain. The detrimental repetition of insulin opposition and the gathering of fat in the liver is a consequence of excessive consumption and too little physical activity.
Consuming too much fat and sugar can lead to an abundance of energy inside cells that cause them to become immune to the effects of insulin. The liver takes in the extra fat and sugar, and must keep it as fat cells in order to protect the body from potential harm caused by too much fat and sugar circulating in the bloodstream.
The fastest method of increasing fatty deposits in the liver is consuming excess carbohydrates. Fructose is especially to blame for causing the most fatty buildup in the liver.
Leading a life of inactivity can reduce your cells’ responsiveness to insulin. Investigations reveal that if you stay in a seated position for a period of two hours after consuming a meal, your insulin sensitivity may worsen and your glucose levels may rise.
Think about what happens to you when most of your hours involve being seated and the majority of your food intake is made up of large amounts of carbs and fat.
Many researchers concur that augmenting one’s sensitivity to insulin is a crucial approach when treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. A certain group of people, however, are able to acquire nonalcoholic fatty liver disease without exhibiting any indications of diabetes resistance.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by a combination of many genes. It implies that when various distinct genetic variations interact, someone is likely to be more vulnerable to developing a fatty liver.
A certain gene variation known as PNPLA3 I148M relates to the emergence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease when there is no obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, or insulin resistance present.
Just because you possess the gene associated with a certain ailment doesn’t guarantee its presence. As an illustration, the PNPLA3 I148M gene variant can only cause a worsening of one’s condition if there is a combination of alcohol consumption, negligence in diet, ingestion of high fructose amounts, a lack of exercise, or infection from a virus.
Polygenetic inheritance gives us a potential reason why nonalcoholic liver diseases are tends to appear in groups of people related to each other.
It is critical to form good habits for living if your family has a history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The likelihood of getting fatty liver disease can also be impacted by other genetic characteristics such as one’s gender and ethnic background. Although previous research suggested that women had a greater chance of developing fatty liver disease, recent findings show that it is more frequent in males.
Researchers suggest that the disparities in hormones and body fat distribution between genders is the cause of this phenomenon. Males typically accumulate more of a fat that is located near their internal organs, which is a kind of fat that is more apt to induce inflammation.
The probability of developing a number of common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are augmented as a result of this. Females, in contrast, usually tend to store fat in their hips and thighs, which is much less inflammatory.
Research has found that African Americans have the most minimal odds of having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, in spite of having a greater danger of type 2 diabetes. It is believed that this is due to their ability to hold fat away from their vital organs.
Asians and Hispanics appear to have the greatest danger of suffering from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Scientists believe that this is likely due to the fact that people from certain backgrounds tend to store their fat closer to their internal organs compared to others from different ethnicities.
It is also vital to bring to attention the influence of other genes on the evolution of fatty liver illness. I am not talking about your genes. It’s time to shift our focus to the genetic material within the microorganisms in your microbiome.
3. Gut Health Issues
Your gut is lined with 100 trillion bacteria that make up your microbiome. The kinds of bacteria that thrive or die out have a major effect on your wellbeing, particularly that of your liver.
Research conducted on the microbiome of people who are overweight discovered that the number of Bacteroidetes were lower than usual, while Firmicutes were in greater numbers.
The increase in lipopolysaccharide absorption was due to the relative proportion of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes.
What are lipopolysaccharides? Gram-negative bacteria such as Bacteroidetes have this element as part of their cellular membrane. However, they aren’t as harmless as they sound.
Endotoxins known as lipopolysaccharides can cause a strong inflammatory reaction in the human body. This answer has a direct connection to liver insulin resistance and weight gain.
It appears that, despite the uniqueness of everyone’s microbiome, there is a definite source of the microbiome causing obesity. The answer is — an obesity producing diet. More specifically, a high-sugar, high-fat diet.
This kind of eating plan lessens the variety of the microbiome, causing a growth in the Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ration in the intestine. A microbiota profile will be established that will likely lead to obesity and the onset of fatty liver disease.
However, this isn’t the worst of it. A bad diet and microbiome that leads to obesity can increase the uptake of lipopolysaccharides, which can be harmful to the liver so much so that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease worsens and develops into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Keto or Low Carb to Treat Fatty Liver Disease
Reducing calorie intake and slimming down can assist in decreasing liver fat. It is not easy to maintain a low-calorie diet for an extended time, due to the body’s hunger pangs and the potential effects on the thyroid or adrenal glands.
Conversely, following a low-carb or ketogenic diet not only has a more prominent impact on decreasing the amount of fat in the liver, but it can be sustained long-term, and assist in diminishing insulin resistance.
In a span of fourteen days, eighteen adults affected with NAFLD compared the effects of a low-calorie diet to a low-carbohydrate without limits in terms of calories. Those in the low-carbohydrates diet witnessed a drop of fifty-five percent in liver fat in contrast to a decrease of twenty-six percent of those in the low-fat diet.
In a separate investigation, 14 individuals having metabolic illness and NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) underwent the Spanish Mediterranean Ketogenic Eating regimen for a period of 3 months.
This diet consists of 30 grams of carbohydrates per day coming from non-starchy vegetables, a plentiful intake of fatty fish and olive oil, and allows moderate consumption of wine, meat, eggs, and cheese.
At the end of the research, almost everyone observed noteworthy decreases in liver fat, and three persons had complete alleviation of NAFLD, with the exception of one person. Additionally, none of the 14 individuals fit the criteria to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Recently, a group of researchers from Sweden conducted a study in which 10 people who had NAFLD were put on a high-protein, low-carb diet for a fortnight. They noticed a sweeping and fast decline in liver fat accompanied by an alteration in gut bacteria and other advantageous modifications.
It is significant to be aware of the fact that the cautiously conducted research on low-carb and ketogenic diets for NAFLD has been limited and of limited time. However, the results have been very impressive. Multiple stories have been shared of NAFLD being improved or even reversed when following a low-carb eating pattern or a ketogenic diet.
Furthermore, although alterations in liver triglycerides are not regularly monitored in research on low-carb and keto diets involving overweight and obese people, a significant reduction in visceral fat and improved insulin resistance are commonly seen, which may signify a decrease in liver fat.
Specific Keto Foods That May Be Beneficial for NAFLD
Green tea has a wealth of catechins, the most influential one of which is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
In a 12-week examination, those with fat liver issue who drank tea that had a minimum of 1 gram of catechins daily indicated a better drop in fat of liver, liver substance, and other markers of swelling compared to the grps that had green tea or a simulated beverage with fewer catechins.
Foods High in Monounsaturated Fats
It appears that monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) offer a plethora of health benefits, not only helping with cardiovascular health, but also providing protection for the liver.
In an experiment with overweight people with type II diabetes, it was determined that compared to a typical diet, a diet that is high in monounsaturated fatty acids resulted in major reductions of liver fat, paying no mind to how much physical activity each group was engaged in.
The top MUFAs for your diet can be obtained from olive oil, olives, avocados, macadamia nuts, almonds, and peanuts.
Whey protein might be advantageous for those with a fatty liver ailment since it can increase glutathione levels.
Glutathione is a compound manufactured by the body to counteract free radicals and safeguard cells.
In a trial of 38 people with NASH, higher glutathione levels, lower liver enzymes, diminished levels of oxidative stress, and a decrease of fatty matter in the liver were seen in participants after drinking 20 grams of whey protein daily over the course of 12 weeks.
Fish that are higher in fat or oil contain a lot of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which have strong anti-inflammatory effects. A comprehensive examination of 10 regulated examinations revealed that Omega-3 PUFAs could reduce fat in the liver and indicate the existence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Omega-3 PUFAs are plentiful in a variety of fish that are regularly eaten, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies.
Polyphenols are classed as phytochemicals, a type of antioxidant that occurs in the coloring of plants.
Green tea contains a kind of polyphenol known as catechins, and scientific studies have uncovered at least 4,000 additional polyphenols. Early investigation appears to indicate that foods which contain a lot of polyphenols could be advantageous for individuals with NAFLD and NASH.
Some keto-friendly foods that are high in polyphenols include raspberries, spinach, red bell peppers, tomatoes, dark chocolate, brewed coffee, red wine, olives, turmeric, and cinnamon.
It was previously stated that an unequal balance of intestinal bacteria is linked to fatty liver sickness.
A meta-analysis of seven studies that was performed in 2017 suggested that taking probiotics may be beneficial for individuals with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) due to the potential decrease in liver fat and enzymes.
The efficacy of the results differed significantly from one subject to the next, and the researchers suggested this may have been due to the variations in probiotic strain, dosage, and duration of treatment being utilized in the trials.
It’s currently not possible to suggest particular probiotic supplements, but some types of low-carb fermented foods such as basic Greek yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi contain natural probiotics which can help with gut health and have the potential to better NAFLD.
Keto Diets for Fatty Liver Disease Concerns
Despite evidence that supports the use of ketogenic diets in people with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a few investigations have found that prolonged following of keto diets may lead to fatty liver disease and oxidative stress in mice.
It is essential to note that the mices’ keto chow in these investigations lacked certain necessary elements, such as choline and methionine. In addition, they were also very low in protein.
It is probable that a diet composed of an exceedingly elevated amount of fat and calories that is ketogenic is not a wise choice for a person suffering from NAFLD as an abundance of the calories will be kept as fat in the liver.
In a small study of individuals with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, just 14% of the extra liver fat originated from fat consumed as part of their diet, 26% from an overconsumption of carbohydrates and the remaining amount got its start from fatty acids released from the body fat of the participants.
Despite the impressive findings of studies regarding the keto diet, individuals who have adopted such a lifestyle have experienced improved and even reversed symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
A diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat usually causes a decrease in hunger, resulting in a natural decrease in calorie consumption. Therefore, overeating isn’t a problem for most keto dieters.