NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty disease occurs when the liver consists of 5-10 percent fat of weight and is the most common liver disorder.
Namely, the liver function is to produce bile which helps the body purify the blood, store mineral, and vitamins, digest fats and break down hormones.
In the case of a fatty liver disease, the liver is not capable of breaking down fats extracted from the blood, and fats form deposits and enlarge the liver. When you have fatty liver disease, the liver is unable to adequately break down the fats it has extracted from the blood. The fats accumulate and the liver becomes enlarged.
These are the causes and increased risk factors for NAFLD:
- Alcohol consumption
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid disorders
- High triglycerides
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet and/or malnutrition
- Certain medications
In addition of NAFLD, if you also suffer from cell damage and inflammation in the liver, the diagnosis is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH, and 2-5 percent of the people in the United States suffer from it.
According to the National Institute of Health, or NIH, 20-30 percent of the adult population in the western countries have NAFLD, and the incidence is also on the rise in the eastern countries.
This disease risk is raised due to age, but due to the high-fat diet youngsters consume nowadays, they are also at an increased risk of getting it.
Yet, the leading cause of NAFLD remains to be excess fructose. You should make sure you avoid fructose from your healthy diet, that is, all the sugar found in fruit juices, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) , honey, and agave syrup.
Namely, it resembles alcohol in numerous aspects and it damages the body, especially the liver. On the other hand, every single cell in the body benefits from glucose, but fructose is only metabolized by your liver, as it is the only one that can transport it.
In the case of high-fructose diet, all of it ends up in the liver, and it accumulates there, damaging the liver just like alcohol and toxins do, causing a metabolic havoc.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, claims that fructose is a “chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin.” It is directly metabolized into fat, and not cellular energy, just like alcohol.
He published his discoveries in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where Dr. Lustig provided an explanation of the 3 similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):
-Liver metabolizes alcohol and fructose the same as they act as substrates for turning dietary carbohydrate into fat, which leads to fatty liver, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream)
-Fructose reacts with proteins in a Maillard reaction and leads to the formation of superoxide free radicals which may cause liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, which is an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
-Dr. Lustig stated that by “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway of the brain both directly and indirectly, fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol.”
The journal Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition states that researchers found that the accelerated increase in NAFLD prevalence supports the role of environmental factors.
Moreover, the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda is linked to NAFLD. The study also revealed that “ingested carbohydrates are… more likely to directly contribute to NAFLD than dietary fat intake.”
Apparently, the fat-forming and pro-inflammatory fructose effects are caused by transient ATP depletion, which is the chemical storage form of energy, and thus leads to the formation of uric acid.
Fructose raises uric acid via a complex process that instructs cells to rapidly burn up the ATP, causing a “cell shock” and increased cell death. Following an excessive consumption of fructose, cells enter a state of shock and are starved of energy, as if they have lost the blood supply. Depleted-of-energy cells are more prone to damage from oxidative stress and become bloated with high quantities of fat.
The rise of uric acid levels is due to the massive die-off of cells. Uric acid is a normal waste product in the blood and has a pro-oxidant and antioxidant function.
Therefore, in the case of too high levels of uric acid, it acts as pro-oxidant and increases the harmful levels inside cells. Dr. Richard Johnson researched the role of fructose in obesity for years and found that uric acid plays the leading role in causing this issue if its levels are 5.5 mg per dl or higher.
It is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. The optimal range is 3- 5.5 mg per dl.
This connection makes it possible to test the levels of uric acid in order to examine fructose toxicity. The major source of fructose nowadays includes sugary beverages, like soda, fruit juice, fruit juice, and lemonade.
Tufts University revealed that this is quite serious, as even one sugary drink a day raises the risk of NAFLD and liver damage. The alarming rates of NAFLD in children are also due to this.
Moreover, the longer you leave NAFLD untreated, the bigger the risk that it will be developed in some even more severe issue, like NASH, liver fibrosis (accumulation of abnormal fibrous tissue), or cirrhosis (accumulation of scar tissue).
A study conducted by the Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition related the consumption of HFCS to the severity of fibrosis in people suffering from NAFLD, so the increased rates in children are extremely alarming. These are some quite disturbing facts about pediatric NAFLD:
- About 10 percent of US children suffer from NAFLD, including 1% of 2- to 4-year-olds and 17% of 15- to 19-year-olds
- Approximately 38% of obese children suffer from NAFLD
- Children with NAFLD are at extremely high risk of complications and poor prognosis, even a need for a liver transplant in adulthood
Furthermore, a great part of obese people has some degree of leptin and insulin resistance, as well as the ones suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
If you are one of them, you should limit the consumption of fructose to about 15 grams of fructose daily day from all sources, even if agave juices, processed foods, and the like.
Even if you are healthy, you should consider limiting the intake of fructose to 25 grams a day, and avoid or reduce the number of foods with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar, as their intake aggravate the situation to a severe extent.
Fruits do contain fructose, but they also have numerous antioxidants and nutrients. Yet, in the case of NAFLD, you should limit the intake of fruits as well.
It is safe to consume certain fruits, like limes and lemons, as they have minimal fructose amounts. Moreover, the amounts of fructose in kiwi, berries, and grapefruit are also low.
Yet, note that you should take moderate amounts of dried fruits, fruit juices, as well as fructose-rich fruits like pears, red apples, and plums.
Dr. Johnson states that regular exercise can allow the moderate amount of fructose intake as it will speed up glucose absorption in the gut and enhance muscle performance. Yet, it depends on the individual, and the ability of the body to metabolize it.
The body is not able to absorb it properly, and the more fructose you consume, the more the transporters that allow the uptake of fructose in the gut are activated, For instance, lean children can absorb only half of the fructose they eat while children with fatty liver disease absorb nearly all of it.
In the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, people experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Jaundice – indicated by a yellow discoloration of the skin or mucus membrane
- Weight loss
- Mental confusion
- Swelling (known as ascites and edema) due to a deficiency of proteins, created by the liver
- Increased bruising
If you are experiencing these symptoms often, you should consult your doctor and check if they indicate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as they may also be a manifestation of other diseases as well.
These are the best homemade remedies in the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
Milk thistle, both silybin, and silymarin have been shown that effectively reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the case of NAFLD, and this has been confirmed by over 10,000 recently published papers.
Dietary changes are also crucial in this treatments. You should regularly consume ginger, bananas, raw vegetables, and sweet potatoes, in order to eliminate the fat in the liver, and you should definitely avoid alcohol.
This is one of the best ways to treat NAFLD, as you can effectively eliminate fat from the body, along with the one accumulated in the liver. You should also drink plenty of water, in order to make sure that the generated toxins are excreted through the urine.
It is a powerful antioxidant, and it efficiently treats inflammation due to NAFLD. It also strengthens the immune system, supports heart health, which can also suffer in the case of NAFLD.
Turmeric will effectively eliminate inflammation due to NAFLD and it will help digestion. Experts advise that you begin with 450 milligrams of turmeric or curcumin supplements on a daily basis.
Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil is a product of black cumin, and it can offer various benefits in the treatment of various ailments, such as NAFLD. Experts have shown that it reduced the progression of this disease, and lowers the risk of complications.
Resveratrol is a red grapes extract, and it is an extremely useful antioxidant, as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. Research has shown that it effectively fights inflammation and oxidative stress in the case of this disease.