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non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Causes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Dis-ease (NAFLD) and How to Heal It


I’ve treated several patients over the years for fatty liver disease.  The bad news is that it’s very common.  The good news is that it’s possible to reverse it.  

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease? 

If your food doesn’t have a mother or a father, your body digests at least part of that food as a sugar, otherwise known as a carbohydrate.  

When you eat carbohydrates (which we do need in some quantity and of a good quality), your pancreas releases insulin to use the carbs for energy.  

When you have too many carbs going in for too long of a period of time, your cells start to resist the insulin uptake.  This is the beginning of diabetes.

Diabetes, obesity, and high carbohydrate intake are all associated with fatty liver disease, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), and their sister disorders NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).  

For more details on what's a carb and how to count them, click here.

Have you heard of the delicacy “foie gras?”  It’s duck or goose fatty liver.  It’s made by feeding the birds large amounts of starches, sugar, and corn. 

Simply by removing processed foods from the diet, liver disease (and high cholesterol and obesity and high blood pressure, …) can be prevented.  Just eat real food – a variety of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein.  

If Liver disfunction is already happening, depending on how bad it’s gotten, there are things you can do to reverse the damage.  Your Liver is highly regenerative, given the chance.   

Foods and Herbs That Can Help Reverse Liver Dis-ease 

Foods for Healing Your Liver: 

  • beet (roots and leaves), 
  • cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage)
  • turmeric,
  • garlic,
  • omega 3 oils (fatty fish oils, flax seeds, walnuts),
  • apples, grapes, berries,
  • coffee, green or mint tea,
  • organic tofu,
  • buckwheat, oats, and alfalfa, 
  • schisandra (herb or berries),
  • Liver! (“like cures like”) 

Cleansing Herbs for Liver Function:

  • rosemary leaf;
  • milk thistle seed;
  • globe artichoke leaf;
  • dandelion root;
  • bupleurum root;
  • fringe tree stem bark. 

Always consult with an herbalist before taking herbs to make sure they’re the right match for your constitution.  

Another thing I’ve noticed over the years – most people who continually detox via herbs or food need to NOURISH (NOT cleanse), and most people who have never detoxed would do good by a short, 3-week cleanse.  In general, moderation is key.  Two cleanses per year max should be sufficient with a generally clean diet and lifestyle.

For a long-term Liver purifying and nourishing herb, I use schisandra.  It's one of the only herbs that's been shown to help regenerate Liver cells.

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