Fatty liver — the culprit is not dietary fat

fatty liver and hypothyroidism

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If you have an autoimmune condition and struggle with excess weight or high blood sugar, your blood tests show may also show fatty liver (high liver enzymes). Although fatty liver has no overt symptoms, a liver filled with fat hinders detoxification, promotes inflammation, may increase gallstones  and increases heart attack risk. So a fatty liver means eat less fat, right? Wrong, the culprit in fatty liver isn’t too much fat but rather too many sugars and carbohydrates.

Too many carbs are the main culprits behind the excess belly fat that is a sure sign of fatty liver. This is because sugar signals the liver to produce more fat.

This process is heightened when the liver must process fructose particularly high-fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and other junk foods.

If you are not managing your autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism this also may contribute to fatty liver disease. Research suggests a strong link between hypothyroidism and fatty liver disease as proper thyroid function is so vital to fat metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

From fatty liver to fatty liver disease

While some fat in the liver is normal, if it exceeds 5 to 10 percent of total weight of the organ, it is considered fatty liver and the first stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If fatty liver progresses unchecked, it can lead all the way to cirrhosis.

(Alcohol abuse can also cause fatty liver disease and the majority of alcoholics have a fatty liver.)

NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in the west, affecting as many as one third of Americans. It primarily afflicts those who overweight and middle-aged, but NAFLD is increasingly affecting children and teens due to their over consumption of sodas, sweets, and high-carb foods. High cholesterol and diabetes are typically found with NAFLD too.

People with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are also at a higher risk of NAFLD because of the affect of hypothyroidism on fat metabolism and liver function. This is why it’s so important to go beyond taking thyroid meds and to manage the autoimmune disease causing low thyroid function.

How to reverse fatty liver and regain liver health

The good news is you can reverse fatty liver before it’s too late. Even though the liver may not initially complain with symptoms, it’s important to take liver health seriously to prevent serious long-term complications. Steps to reverse fatty liver include:

  • Manage your autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism with functional medicine. A big part of the battle is to manage your autoimmune low thyroid condition. Meds alone may not be enough to resolve the mechanisms and symptoms that promote fatty liver in instances of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. For more advice on using functional medicine to manage Hashimoto’s, contact my office. As well, follow the recommendations below.
  • Adopt a lower-carb, sugar-free diet. High blood sugar leads to fatty liver. To start reversing it you need to bring blood sugar down to healthy levels with a whole foods diet abundant in fibrous vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins while low in foods that spike blood sugar. Most people will begin to lose excess fat on this way of eating as well, further unburdening the liver.
  • Exercise daily. Exercise helps lower high blood sugar, detoxify the body, and shed excess fat, all of which will help reverse fatty liver.
  • Avoid alcohol and unnecessary medications. Alcohol is very hard on the liver, as are many medications. Avoid both as much as possible while working to reverse fatty liver.
  • Lower inflammation. The liver actually plays an important role in inflammation and lowering overall inflammation will likewise ease its burdens. The most important ways to do this are by removing foods from your diet that promote inflammation (gluten and dairy are the most common) and minimizing exposure to toxins and chemicals.
  • Take natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Certain nutritional compounds really shine when it comes to lowering inflammation. These include high doses of emulsified turmeric and resveratrol, absorbable forms of glutathione, vitamin D, and many other compounds. Contact our team for more advice.
  • Support liver detoxification pathways. If your liver cells are clogged with fat it may have trouble with everday detoxification duties. The liver responds wonderfully to herbs and compounds that support detoxification, such as milk thistle or n-acetyl-cysteine.

The important part is not to get overwhelmed because YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And you don’t have to guess if these are tests and herbs you need to take. It can be determined from simple tests that we can order for you after a quick consultation. Then we can work on more ways to reverse fatty liver, support liver health, and manage your autoimmune condition.

Joni Labbe

About Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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