People often munch on unhealthy food, not realizing that such processed food overtax the Liver and potentially result in a condition called “Fatty Liver”. Here are some dietary measures that will help prevent and treat patients who have been diagnosed with a damaged Liver, thus making it work at its optimum level.
CUT DOWN ON FOOD TOXINS:
Recommend reducing the intake of food toxins,including refined carbohydrates like Maida and its products (Breads, Pav, Bun & baked goods), Sugar, Salt, hydrogenated fats (Palm Oil, Butter etc.), junk &fried food (French Fries, Samosas, Wadas, etc.),containing unhealthy trans-fats which can damage the Liver cells, causing fatty infiltration. Processed food primarily comprises of added preservatives, artificial colors and food additives; these lack nutrition, and rather contain harmful chemicals that stress the Liver. Restrict the intake of red Meat which is high in saturated fat and Cholesterol, and is linked to the development of fatty Liver. Eliminate Alcohol consumption as it is a key contributory factor leading to Fatty Liver and can cause further damage, which could be difficult to reverse.
REDUCE OVERALL CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE:
Overconsumption of food high in simple sugar speeds up the process of Liver converting it into fat. Recommend reducing the intake of sugary cereals, sweets, soda drinks and instead choose whole fruits. Complex Carbohydrates present in whole grains, pulses, and vegetables contain dietary fiber and are safer. Though sugar and refined flour (maida) are culprits in the development of Fatty Liver, reduce overall carbohydrate intake from Chapatis, Rice and other grains. Fat accumulation in the abdominal area is one of the symptoms of the fatty liver disease.
GO FOR GREENS TO PREVENT FAT BUILD UP
Eating plentiful of dark Green Leafy Vegetables, which contain pigment Chlorophyll, which helps eliminate toxins from the Liver. Moreover, they contain Folic Acid, essential Minerals &Vitamins, and disease-fighting Antioxidants which are important for recovery of affected Liver. Go for Mustard Greens (sarson ka saag), Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Amaranth (math /chaulai), Arbi leaves, Drumstick leaves, Methi leaves, Beetroot leaves, Radish leaves, Parsley and other greens, which will help production of enzymes, which prevent accumulation of fat.
OPT FOR FOODS RICH IN VIT-B, PROTEIN, DIETARY FIBER& OMEGA-3 FATS
- Fatty liver results in deficiencies of Vit-B, and making it important to supplement our diet with Vit-B6, Folate (B9) and B12. Try getting enough Vit-B6 from Fish, Banana and Sunflower seeds. Folate can be obtained from Fish and green leafy Vegetables, including Curry leaves& Mint, Asparagus (Shatavari), Beetroot, Mango, Pulses & Legumes, Sesame seeds and Mustard seeds. Chicken, egg whites, Fish, low fat milk and milk products, are all good sources of Vit-B12 & Protein.
- Omega-3 fats fight inflammation and can help in faster healing, if consumed in moderation. These are found in Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Tuna, Oil Sardines, Flaxseeds (Alsi), Chia seeds (Sabja), Soybean and Walnuts.
- Include variety of whole Pulses and Dals to get maximum Dietary Fiber and additional Proteins. Consume lesser quantities of polished de-husked dals.
One can consume handful of nuts and seeds, but remember, never go overboard on these. Healthy Liver helps remove toxins but in Fatty Liver condition, the Liver is damaged to some extent. Protein metabolism leaves behind toxins which the damaged Liver cannot remove efficiently. Therefore, it is recommended to include non-veg protein in moderation.
PICK PLENTY OF FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables have valuable nutrients including plenty of Dietary Fiber, and a diet rich in these reduces symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease. For effective results, incorporate a fresh variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. To reap the benefits of Vit-C, choose Capsicum (green, yellow, red), Black Currants, Guava (Peru), Gooseberry (Amla), Strawberries, Kiwi, Lemon, Sweet lime (Mosambi), Orange, Papaya, Green Mango, Pummelo (Chakotra/Papnus), Drumstick, Karela and Broccoli. Obtain Beta Carotene from Mango, Papaya, Muskmelon, Watermelon, Carrot, and Tomatoes.Eat Beetroots, which are rich in Flavonoid Betalain. these antioxidants help flush out toxins and reduce Liver fat. Once the Liver is cleaned of toxins, our bodies are more capable of maintaining healthy Blood Cholesterol levels.If one has high Blood Sugar levels, it is best to limit fruits to 200gms per day.
Avocados are high in fat but contain goods fats – “Monounsaturated Fats” which help in reducing Triglyceride levels, LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol) in individuals with Fatty Liver condition.
Recommend Sulphur containing foods like Garlic, Onion, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radish (Muli), Turnip (shalgam) which assists in making Glutathione, a powerful Antioxidant and Liver Detoxifier.
ADOPTING HEALTHIER COOKING METHODS
Advise healthier cooking methods like steaming, pressure cooking, stir-frying and grilling, which uses little or no fat and eliminates the danger of developing toxins in food. This will help heal the damaged Liver faster. It is best to remove the skin from meat and avoid organ meats, to reduce intake of fat from non-veg sources. Using minimum oil for cooking and making use of a variety of vegetables in one’s food preparations should be recommended.
Dr. Swati Bhushan is HOD of Dietetics and Nutrition at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital.