What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?
NAFLD is a liver disease not caused by alcohol ingestion. It is characterized by excess fat being stored in our liver cells.
It is the most common liver disease in Canada, typically in those who are overweight or obese, specifically with excess abdominal adiposity.
There are many conditions associated and closely linked with NAFLD including insulin resistance, obesity, hyperlipidemia (high lipids in the blood) & diabetes.
Macronutrients, including fats and sugar, are broken down by the liver and are stored in our tissues. When we consume too much of these, they can accumulate in the liver overwhelming our liver cells and leading to NAFLD.
There are not always symptoms present when someone has NAFLD, typically it’s found on routine blood work. However, there can be pain around the liver area (upper right quadrant of the abdomen), fatigue, unexplained changes in weight, brain fog, and weakness.
So how do we go about treating NAFLD?
Conventionally, although there are some trials for medications, there are no current medications approved for the specific treatment of NAFLD.
We recommend gradual, safe weight loss both conventionally and Naturopathically, in order to reduce cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood
Other ways we can help to treat NAFLD include:
Improving insulin sensitivity through diet & potentially supplements
Reducing unhealthy fats, simple carbohydrates & sugars from the diet and instead focusing on a whole foods, and unprocessed diet, higher in omega 3 fatty acids
Exercise (150 minutes per week of moderate to high intensity)
Inositol deficiency has been seen in those with NAFLD. Supplementation was shown to reduce liver triglycerides & cholesterol accumulation
Alpha lipoic acid supplementation was shown to improve insulin resistance and hormones associated with NAFLD
Curcumin supplementation has been shown to be affective in reducing a number of inflammatory diseases as well as having a protective effect on hepatic conditions. It was also shown to reduce liver enzymes on blood work (which is seen in NAFLD)
There are many other supplements that have been proven to be effective against NAFLD.
It’s always important to consult your doctor before starting any new supplements to ensure there are no interactions or harms with your specific individual needs.
Author: Dr. Samantha Allen, ND