Combating NAFLD: Choosing Correct Dietary Approaches To Manage Liver Condition
In the fight against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, coffee, fiber, and the Mediterranean diet shine as key players.
Written by saumya pandey|Updated : September 23, 2023 8:01 AM IST
Nonalcoholic fatty liver is a term used to describe liver conditions that affect people who don't drink. Alcohol is one of the main reasons for deteriorated liver function but people who don't drink might also be affected. NAFLD occurs when too much fat is stored in liver cells. Certain signs and symptoms insinuate the presence of NAFLD. It can include fatigue, pain, or discomfort in the upper right abdomen. Overweight and obese is the common reason linked to fatty liver and it is a topic of concern as it can cause severe liver complications like high cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, particularly when fat is concentrated in the abdomen, polycystic ovary syndrome, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, under active thyroid (hypothyroidism), under active pituitary gland (hypopituitarism). Recent research has shown that certain dietary changes can help to combat NAFLD. According to the research, coffee, fiber, and the Mediterranean diet can serve as powerful defenders against the liver condition.
Researchers reviewed studies from databases like MEDLINE, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Scopus to explore dietary approaches to NAFLD management. They highlighted several key points:
The Mediterranean Diet, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and low in red meat, has shown promise in reducing the risk of NAFLD. It emphasizes using olive oil as the primary source of fats and avoiding refined carbohydrates and excess sugar. Studies suggest it can decrease weight gain, insulin resistance, and the development of NAFLD.
Western diets high in saturated fats and animal protein have been associated with NAFLD. Saturated fats can disrupt liver cell function and promote inflammation. High consumption of animal protein is linked to NAFLD, especially in obese individuals.
Fructose And High-Glycemic Carbohydrates
Regular fructose consumption, often from industrial sources, is linked to an increased risk of fibrosis, particularly in overweight and obese individuals. Diets high in high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, processed meats, and saturated fats tend to accelerate telomere shortening, a phenomenon observed in NAFLD.
Genetics And Micronutrients
Genetics plays a role in NAFLD, and certain dietary factors can impact DNA homeostasis. Nutrient deficiencies like betaine, choline, folate, and vitamin B12 may promote DNA methylation and hepatic triglyceride production. Including foods rich in these nutrients, such as nuts, seeds, seafood, and high-fiber diets, can reduce NAFLD risk.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Antioxidants
Fish, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce fat accumulation in the liver and prevent NAFLD and fibrosis. Antioxidant-rich foods like vegetables and fruits may protect against NAFLD by influencing gut microbiota and providing antioxidant properties.
Dairy Products And Probiotics
Certain dairy products, especially yogurt containing specific strains of probiotics, have been linked to a reduced risk of NAFLD due to their whey protein content and potential to aid in weight reduction.
Micronutrients like zinc, copper, iron, selenium, vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as carotenoids, have antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties that may mitigate NAFLD.