Until recently, Hepatic steatosis was linked to excessive alcohol consumption, however, numerous individuals have, in the past several years, been diagnosed with a non-alcoholic version of the same condition. INDEED, poor nutrition can also attack your liver!
Hepatic steatosis, more commonly known as “fatty liver”, evolves as rapidly as diabetes and obesity. Is it dangerous? Can something be done about it?
The Larousse Medical dictionary describes this “new” liver condition as: “Steatosis” which is an abnormal accumulation of fat inside the cells, which barely contain traces of this substance in their normal state. These accumulated fats are usually triglycerides. The liver, which plays a major role in metabolizing these fats, is the site most likely to experience this overload.
The onset of this condition is initially asymptomatic. In most instances, it is discovered
during an abdominal ultrasound or with the presence of certain enzymes in a blood test.
Afflicted individuals may feel heaviness in their legs, suffer from migraines, acid reflux, heartburn or sharp drops in energy levels throughout the day.
IS IT DANGEROUS?
The accumulation of fat inside the liver cells increases the volume of the liver, detected by a palpation exam, followed by an ultrasound for confirmation. At this stage, this condition is cumbersome but not usually damaging on a permanent level. If, however, the affliction degenerates into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, it can become more serious. This degeneration indicates a cellular inflammation and fibrosis. (loss of hepatic tissue elasticity.)
PEOPLE AT RISK :
Diabetics or those affected by metabolic syndrome.
Those with high cholesterol or triglyceride levels
Those who overeat and suffer from excess weight or obesity
Those who consume alcohol excessively
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?
Hepatic steatosis “Fatty Liver” can be reversed. It is important to know that the location of fat deposits is instrumental in determining the gravity of this condition. Individuals with a concentration of fat around the waist risk more serious complications than those who get it around the buttocks and thighs. The amount of fat in the body is pertinent, but less so than where it is located.
MEASURE YOUR WAISTLINE! It should not exceed 102 cm (40 inches) for men and 88 cm (35 inches) for a woman.
Abdominal obesity is one of the principal evaluation criteria in the diagnosis of this condition. Fat cells which accumulate around the waist differ from those around other parts of the body. Insulin is a hypoglycemic hormone which behaves similarly to a key. It allows the cells to open and enable glucose to enter and circulate through the bloodstream. If insulin is not able to open these cells, glucose levels become too elevated in the blood. Eventually, many cells will stop responding to insulin (causing insulin resistance), at the exception of the fat cells surrounding the abdominal region. The waistline consequently thickens and increases the risk of developing hepatic steatosis.
THE LIVER, A REMARKABLE AND IRREPLACEABLE ORGAN
This complex and amazing internal laboratory works day and night on behalf of the human body. It contributes to the digestive process, the synthesis of our cholesterol, for bile secretion as well as the storage of A, D, K, B vitamins (notably Vitamin B12) as well as minerals such as iron and copper. It also helps coagulate blood and is instrumental to the metabolism of sugar, protein, lipids and numerous hormonal processes.
Most significantly, however, is that it is the PRINCIPAL FILTER for every substance we ingest: Nutrients, toxic molecules that we breathe or consume, alcohol, medication etc…
Its antitoxic capacity is remarkable: It can neutralize and virtually destroy toxins…unless it is challenged by an infiltration of fats, given that toxins adhere to lipids and hence make them very difficult to remove.
SOLUTIONS AND PREVENTION
It is important to consume a sufficient quantity of protein. A daily portion of whey protein is recommended.
Among the supplements, lipotropic factors (ability to prevent and remove fat deposits from our liver can be enhanced with supplements which provide the same action (choline, inositol and methionine)
In instances of slow digestion, enzymes with betaine or pancreatic enzymes can be helpful and with regards to acid reflux, bitter herbs like artichoke, dandelion and milk thistle can quickly improve digestion. For heartburn, we recommend deglycerized licorice root extract and slippery elm.
Consume 2-3 organic apples daily as it has cholesterol lowering effects.
Increase your consumption of vegetables, protein and fibres while reducing carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol of all types.
One meal at a time… Good health begins on your plate!
By Lise Guénette, ND.A.
Member of l'Association des naturopathes agréés du Québec
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