Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease condition where excess fat is stored in the liver.
Two Types of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD)
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), there are two types of nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases and both of them raise the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD):
Simple Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFL)
Simple nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) stores fat in the liver, but there is very little or no inflammation or damage to liver cells. It usually does not progress to complications and to more serious liver damage. This is the most common form of NAFLD and affects about 30-40% of adults in the United States.
Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is not only fat in the liver, but there is also liver cell damage and inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). This can lead to fibrosis, scarring, cirrhosis or liver cancer. NASH affects about 3-12% of adults in the United States.
Risks for Developing Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
- Aging raises the risk even though NAFLD can affect people of all ages including children.
- High levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Certain kinds of medicines
- Certain kinds of infections like hepatitis C
- Exposure to toxins
- People who had their gallbladders removed.
Treatment for NAFLD and NASH
There is no medicine currently that can treat NAFLD or NASH. The main way to reduce fat stored in the liver is to lose weight and to get more physical exercise. Not only can losing weight reduce fat in the liver, but it can also reduce inflammation, fibrosis and scarring. According to the NIDDK, losing 3-5% of your body weight can reduce liver fat. However, to reduce inflammation in the liver it may be necessary to lose up to 10% of your body weight. Doctors recommend losing 7% or more of your body weight gradually over a year. Losing weight rapidly, especially fasting, can actually make NAFLD worse.
Natural Vitamin E
The NIDDK cites a study that found treatment with Vitamin E was able to improve NASH in about half of the people in a trial. They stress that you should take the natural form of Vitamin E found in food and not the synthetic type. More research is needed to make sure that this kind of Vitamin E is safe to take over a long period of time. Do not take any of these things on your own, but discuss it with your doctor. Also, be very careful about using any dietary supplements or herbs, as some of these can actually damage the liver.
Green, Leafy Vegetables may Prevent NAFLD
A different study published by Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute, December 17, 2018 in PNAS showed that simply eating lots of green, leafy vegetables that contain inorganic nitrate can improve NAFLD. The inorganic nitrate, which is found in green, leafy vegetables, is converted to nitric oxide (NO). However, the researchers stress that in order for inorganic nitrate to be converted to NO there has to be the right bacteria in the body to do this and if this good bacteria is missing no benefits can come from eating vegetables that contain nitrates.
Green Leafy Vegetables with Highest Amounts of Nitrates
No harm can come from adding more green, leafy vegetables to your diet especially the following that have the highest amounts of nitrates:
- Beet Greens
Choose a Rehab that offers a Healthy and Nutrition Cuisine
The Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey offers fine dining that includes a delicious and healthy cuisine with a variety of options sure to satisfy everyone. Those who have special dietary needs are accommodated.
Eat lots of leafy greens as they may prevent the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). See more about super food broccoli from our blog post from February 28, 2019.