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What to eat and drink to prevent and combat fatty liver

September 26, 2023
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What to eat and drink to prevent and combat fatty liver

What to eat to protect the liver, counteract hepatic steatosis and reduce the risk of its dangerous evolution into other diseases such as cirrhosis? Today we are talking about this important topic based on a very recent research published in the journal Nutrients by a Spanish team (Montemayor et al, Nutrients, Sep 2023).

Fatty liver, what it is and risks

Non-alcoholic fatty liver, or lover steatosis, is a condition in which fats accumulate in the liver. The causes are multiple and some are not fully clarified, but at the origin we often find an unbalanced diet rich in fats, other conditions such as overweight, obesity and diabetes. In itself, fatty liver disease is not a health risk, however, in some cases, it can evolve into more dangerous forms such as steatohepatitis, in which there is also inflammation and scarring of the liver tissue, cirrhosis and cellular degeneration. The importance of combating fatty liver through interventions such as an active lifestyle and a diet that reflects the Mediterranean Diet as much as possible is therefore clear. But let's try to better understand the advice of experts regarding nutrition that protects the liver.

Guidelines for nutrition that protects the liver

To combat fatty liver and its evolution it is important not to miss out on nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Very large studies have been able to demonstrate that the intake of nuts and seeds reduces the risk of fatty liver and liver fibrosis.

Then, another pillar of the liver-saving diet is extra virgin olive oil that, with its content of phenolic compounds, tocopherol and unsaturated fatty acids, helps reduce inflammation and damage from free radicals. Not only that, it has been observed that, in people with type 2 diabetes, the use of extra virgin olive oil is able to reduce the accumulation of liver fat by almost 40%. The intake of omega 3 fatty acids is also useful in preventing and combating hepatic steatosis. In fact, studies have shown that taking supplements containing omega 3 reduced liver fat in 6 months. It is also important not to miss out on fiber, especially those contained in whole grains, which reduce inflammation and counteract various conditions associated with hepatic steatosis, such as the increase in circulating lipids and sugars. On the contrary, in people with fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis it is common to consume a low amount of fiber. A high intake of legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, reduces the risk of fatty liver disease. To protect your liver, do not exclude dairy products from your diet. In fact, dairy products are anti-inflammatory and reduce insulin resistance. Even better if dairy products are combined with probiotics, as is the case with some yogurts.

Then the consumption of yogurt with probiotics has been shown to reduce diagnoses of hepatic steatosis and liver suffering. Finally, the green light is also given to coffee, which is protective of the liver, but only in the unsweetened version!

The dangers of fructose

Be careful with fructose, but not the one naturally contained in fruit, the consumption of which, together with vegetables, is instead hepatoprotective, but rather the one added as a sweetener. In fact, studies have shown that fructose added to foods is one of the main causes of the onset of hepatic steatosis and its progression.

Conclusions

As we have seen, a varied and healthy diet is able to improve liver health and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. In fact, a healthy diet is a type of diet that is based on few sacrifices and prefers unrefined foods, involves the intake of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, dairy products, legumes and nuts and even coffee! It is important to limit sugars and fructose and follow moderate physical activity.

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