Fatty liver disease is one of the leading causes of deaths due to liver failure. While this condition starts off as a benign liver disease, it may progress into a serious liver disease. Fatty liver is often a precursor to liver cirrhosis and finally ends up in liver failure. The problem with this condition is that, it is often asymptomatic during the initial years. Hence, without an ultrasound examination it is difficult to detect its presence. Fatty liver disease mostly results from excessive alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating habits, over the years. Supposedly, this condition can be reversed using an Atkins diet. Let us understand in detail how Atkins diet for fatty liver patients can be helpful.
Atkins Diet for Fatty Liver
Before getting into the details of Atkins diet, let me brief you on how does the condition, fatty liver, arise. Fatty liver is a condition in which fat deposition takes place in liver. In the human body, most organs are covered in a fatty layer, which acts as an insulator for the organ. The normal fat deposits in the liver are about 5% of its total weight. Dietary fat is circulated through the bloodstream and gets deposited in the liver. Liver burns the fat deposits to release energy for the body functions. However, when you consume excess fatty foods, only a small amount gets burned for energy while the remainder just sits on your liver, causing fatty liver disease. In this disease, the healthy liver cells (hepatocytes) are replaced by fat cells, which affect the liver function. Fatty liver disease is the first step to liver cirrhosis and liver failure for alcoholics. In non-alcoholics, this condition may be benign and may or may not result in a fatal outcome. However, a treatment for fatty liver is a must to keep this condition in check and prevent further impairment of liver function.
In non-alcoholics, fatty liver primarily results from an unhealthy diet only. Hence, making healthy changes in your diet can effectively reverse this disease. It has been found that people suffering from this disease eat a very high carbohydrate diet. Similarly, higher intake of fats also causes triglyceride deposition on the liver. This causes nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a serious version of fatty liver disease. People suffering from fatty liver disease as well as NASH were found to show an improvement while on Atkins diet. This diet eliminates simple carbohydrates, which otherwise cause elevated sugar levels. High glucose levels increase your body’s predisposition to store fat as a resource for energy in future.
Atkins diet is characterized by consumption of foods that are low on carbs. It works on the ketosis mechanism. In this, the body uses fat deposits as a source of energy. Insufficient amount of carbs forces the body to utilize its fat storage. This results in overall weight loss for a person. As the fat deposits in the body start depleting, the liver also becomes free of fat. Energy is derived from the protein and fat intake. Atkins diet contains foods that have a low glycemic index and are hence, especially recommended for fatty liver. Low glycemic index foods are foods that break down slowly, without causing a surge in blood sugar. As high blood sugar is associated with fat deposition on liver, Atkins diet foods with low glycemic index indeed help in preventing fatty liver disease.
There is no doubt that Atkins diet promotes weight loss, hence may also help to control fatty liver disease. However, this type of diet may not be a healthy option for your body in the long run. The protein intake, if very high may trigger various cardiovascular problems and affect liver and kidney function. Even while on this diet, dieters may experience some unpleasant effects such as bad breath, constipation, etc. The induction phase requires you to consume less than 20 net grams per day, out of which 12-15 net grams come from salad greens and other vegetables, like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, pumpkin, cauliflower, turnips, tomatoes, etc. Other foods allowed include meat, fish, eggs, fowl, and eggs. Stay off alcohol, and try your best to cut down on caffeine (have it in moderation if you really want to). The next phase (ongoing phase) sees you upping the carbohydrate content by 5 net grams per week. You can have the acceptable vegetables and include cheese. The maintenance phase requires you to consume fruits, vegetables containing starch, legumes, and whole grains.
If you wish to start Atkins diet for controlling fatty liver disease, make sure you get a green signal from your healthcare provider first. You may have to take certain supplements while on this diet. Besides, regular exercises can also improve your overall health.