In today’s modern world we are constantly being bombarded by toxins on a daily basis. They are in the air we breathe and the food that we eat. Whether or not we realize it, everything from pollution to high levels of sugar intake puts additional stress on our bodies, and it is our liver’s job to deal with the problem. As amazing as our liver is at cleansing our bodies, it can have a difficult time keeping up, which can lead to major issues like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The Danger of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Many of us are aware that high alcohol consumption can damage the liver, but a lesser-known type of liver disease, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), is becoming more and more prevalent in the Western World, with an estimated 80-100 million American citizens affected .
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is an umbrella term for a range of liver problems affecting people that drink little to no alcohol. The main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in the liver cells .
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can range in severity, with more advanced cases (called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) causing liver inflammation, possible scarring, and irreversible damage .
What Causes Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
Doctors do not know 100% why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not. However, there are some conditions that seem to be linked to the disease:
- Insulin Resistance
- High Blood Sugar
- High Levels of Fat in the Blood (particularly triglycerides)
NAFLD can occur in any age group, but it is most common in people in their 40s and 50s who are at a high risk of heart disease based on factors like obesity and type 2 diabetes .
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms
One of the things that makes Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease difficult to diagnose is that it often does not show symptoms. However, when it does they include:
- Enlarged Liver
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
Possible signs of the advanced form of NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, may be:
- Abdominal swelling
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
- Enlarged breasts in men
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (i.e, jaundice)
So for those who don’t consume much alcohol, but are wondering things like “Why am I constantly tired? Why am I bloated all the time? And why are my hands red?”, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease could be to blame.
Natural At-Home Remedies for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
The job of the liver is to be a janitor, making sure that the toxins we are exposed to are being expelled from the body. Without a properly functioning liver, we cannot hope to live a happy, and long life. This is why it’s absolutely essential that we take care of it. Here are some natural ways that you can make sure this vital organ remains strong and healthy.
One of the best ways to reduce the amount of fat in your liver is to maintain a healthy weight for your age and body type. Developing, and staying consistent with an exercise routine will help you to keep your body weight in check so that you can ensure the health of your body.
It is recommended that healthy adults aim for at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking or swimming, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, including running or dancing. These minutes should be spread over the course of the week .
The Department of Health also recommends strength training exercises for all muscle groups at least 2 times per week. Examples of strength training exercises could include weight machines, resistance tubing, resistance paddles in the water, or rock climbing .
If there’s ever a liver-friendly diet, it’s a low-glycemic Mediterranean diet. It has been proven to reduce fat within the liver for those suffering from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease . So, how can you implement this diet into your life? Eat more of the things that you love.
How You Can Follow This Diet:
- Eat more fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains
- Eat more fish and less red meat
- Drink lots of water and herbal teas during the day (black tea is recommended)
- Limit salt intake
- Avoid using butter, and use olive oil instead
- Consume 0-4 eggs per week
- Moderate amounts of dairy 
Silymarin (more commonly known as Milk Thistle) has been proven to be effective in reducing inflammation in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease . Milk thistle is a plant that is typically taken orally, in supplement-form. The leaves and flowers of the plant are also edible and are often placed on a salad in place of spinach.
Berberine is a chemical found in several plants, including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric . One study showed that when berberine, along with lifestyle changes, decreased the amount of fat in the liver significantly . Berberine is also beneficial blood sugar control.
To get your dose of berberine, you can either take it in its isolated form (as Berberine HCL) or from some of the herbs listed above. Oregon grape and barberry are the most common herbal sources of berberine.
Dandelion leaves, or roots, are often used as a cleansing agent to the body, and that’s because dandelion will detoxify and metabolize fat that accumulates in the liver. It also significantly reduced lipid accumulation in the liver and reduces insulin resistance .
The best way to reap the liver cleansing benefits of dandelion is to put some leaves (available at most grocery stores when in season) into your salads. The leaves will often have a bitter taste, so counteract that with an array of flavors, and voila! Below is an easy video that will show you exactly how to enjoy dandelion in your diet. Dandelion root and leaf tea is also an option, but be forewarned, it’s bitter!
Licorice root is another remedy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that you can easily factor into your diet to improve the state of your liver. One double-blind study showed that licorice root extract significantly reduces liver enzymes in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease .
Licorice root is easily consumable in the form of tea. Measure 1 tablespoon per cup of tea that you would like to make, place your licorice root into a tea infuser or french press, let steep for about 5 minutes, and enjoy! If you have high blood pressure it is best to avoid licorice.
Choline (which is a B vitamin) is important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Needless to say, it’s pretty important when it comes to keeping us healthy. The liver stores choline, and it is dependent on it, which means that it’s an important nutrient for you to have in your body if you want to keep your liver working properly.
Choline is found in many different foods, but it’s particularly abundant in egg yolks and animal proteins .
While, in most cases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease tends to maintain a benign course (with the exception of advanced cases of steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis) it is important to your overall health to keep your liver healthy. Diet and lifestyle are the most important factors to consider when treating your liver, and they are both factors that you 100% can control yourself. If you do happen to be noticing any symptoms of NAFLD it’s important that you go to your doctors to ensure that your liver is functioning as it should.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
 Mayo Clinic Staff. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567
 Edward R. Laskowski. How Much Should the Average Adult Exercise Everyday? (Ap. 20, 2016). https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916
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 Glycemic Index. Mediterranean Diet. https://www.glycemic-index.org/mediterranean-diet.html
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 Ali Akbar Hajiaghamohammadi, Amir Ziaee, Rasoul Samimi. The Efficacy of Licorice Root Extract in Decreasing Transaminase Activities in Non‐alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. (Feb. 6, 2012). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.3728
 Karen D. Corbin and Steven H. Zeisel. Choline Metabolism Provides Novel Insights into Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and its Progression. (Mar. 2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601486/
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