Fatty liver disease frequently produces no symptoms, but may lead to inflammation, impaired function or the permanent scarring of cirrhosis. Long-term liver injury, possibly from alcohol abuse, acetaminophen or other medications, obesity, or viral hepatitis can produce a fatty liver. Many people with fatty liver-related health problems have more than one risk factor. While dietary recommendations depend on health history, lifestyle changes may improve the disorder before serious liver damage occurs. See your health care professional for individualized nutritional guidance.
MayoClinic.com recommends a plant-based diet for fatty liver disease. A completely plant-based diet, or vegan diet, does not contain foods from animal sources, including eggs and dairy products. Vegan diets are also usually low in saturated fats that may contribute to fatty liver. Since your liver plays a key role in protein metabolism, avoiding high-protein foods such as beef, pork and processed meats helps to give your liver a chance to rest and heal. Whole-grain foods such as whole oats and brown rice and fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that aid cellular defense and tissue repair. Plant-based whole foods also contain slowly-digested complex carbohydrates that help to prevent fatty liver disease. Walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, purselane and spirulina are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids that may help lower blood and liver fats. A plant-based diet can provide protein with foods such as soybean tofu or soy milk, quinoa, sprouts, nuts and chlorella. Nutritionist Phyllis Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," lists artichokes, beets and dandelion greens as traditional vegan foods for liver health.
Weight loss may reduce fat accumulation in the liver, particularly if fatty liver is associated with obesity. A low-protein, low-fat diet for weight loss is plant-based and includes small portions of lean meats, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. MedlinePlus suggests that people with liver disease should limit protein intake to about 1 gram per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day, or about 70 grams for 154 pounds of body weight per day. A review of clinical studies suggests that eating less total fat and increasing the intake of fish oils may be beneficial to people with fatty liver disease, according to the February 2008 issue of "Current Opinion in Lipidology."
Modeled after the cultural foods of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Fish, poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are used sparingly and the diet includes very little red meat. Moderate red wine consumption is a part of the cultural fare. However, check with your doctor before consuming any alcohol. The monounsaturated fatty acids present in olive oil may decrease the accumulation of liver fat, according to research that was published in the April 21, 2009 issue of "World Journal of Gastroenterology."
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