NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease)
One of the fascinating aspects of what I do, is the study of organs and their functions – plus some diagnosis of where you stand. Making it easier to arrive at a diet plan. I love the liver as an organ, why? Because while all the other organs also do a lot for us, the liver is special. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on which Macrobiotics as an approach rests its foundation the liver has the following special features – “The liver is like an army’s general from whom the strategy is derived.”
- Stores blood
- The liver ensures the smooth flow of Qi (prana)
- Controls the sinews (tissues, tendons, ligaments)
- Manifests in nails
- Opens in the eye
- Controls tears
- Houses the Ethereal Soul
- It is affected by anger
Liver relationships showing disharmony and how I see it – Its taste is sour (if you experience sour taste or excessive sour will hurt your liver), its colour is green (manifesting in greenish complexion), its climate is wind (person who complains of being affected by wind), its sound is shouting (someone who speaks loudly and shouts).
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease ––What it is?
NAFLD is a very common disorder and refers to a group of conditions where there is accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who drink little alcohol or no alcohol at all. Most of us relate a fatty liver to alcohol, or maybe to an attack of jaundice. But a lot of people suffer from a syndrome called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In fact, most of my clients with IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome), overweight, high-cholesterol, high- triglycerides and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) clients have this condition.NAFLD is also a part of metabolic syndrome characterized by diabetes, or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), being obese, as well as having high blood pressure. Anything above 5–10 per cent of your normal liver weight poses a problem. In such cases, since the liver stores sugar glucose, detoxifies blood (chemicals), stores nutrients, insulin and other hormones, all these functions get disrupted. When the liver gets overloaded, toxins recirculate in the system and start binding to protein, forming deformed molecules. When these deformed molecules make their way back to the liver, it has a hard time processing them. These toxins add to the inflammation, and since the liver handles hormones as well, there is an imbalance.
Gut Microbes and NAFLD
Research on liver malfunction points us in the direction of bad gut microbes. Research in an article on ‘The role of intestinal bacteria overgrowth in obesity-related non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,’discovered that people who presented with obesity had an abundant overgrowth of the bad variety of bacteria and next to little or no presence of the good bacteria. According to the findings, the gut microbiota played a key role in the defence against pathogens by defending intestinal microvilli. Bacterial translocation (BT) due to a leaky gut interferes with blood supply to the liver. This blood contains products of digestion as well as microbial products derived from gut microbiota. This is one of the reasons for the disorder taking place in the liver. The paper also points out that cirrhosis and liver disease come about due to BT. Gut microbiota may also alter the bile– acid profile, contributing to liver disease. Both SIBO and obesity predispose one to NAFLD.
NAFLD usually causes no signs, however the following symptoms may lead you to investigate:
- Abdominal swelling
- Red palms
- Yellowness in eyes or skin
- Enlarged spleen
- Pain on the upper right side of the abdomen
Coming from a TCM – traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective perspective, the liver’s colour is green, and its season is spring/early summer. However, the following addition of special foods really help with liver pathology: green apples, lime, leafy greens (especially barley grass: as barley is a spring/early summer grain). Also, bitter tastes: fenugreek, mustard leaves (sarson), mustard oil, radish, arugula (rocket leaves).
Apart from this, include a diet that is rich in whole grains, lentils/beans, vegetables – with an emphasis of leafy greens, fruit, nuts/seeds, fermented foods. Cut out alcohol, sugar, refined flour, anything processed or packaged, too much fruit juices, coffee, Indian tea and any other stimulants.
Exercise and keep a healthy weight. The liver’s emotion is anger, so plug into techniques that help like deep breathing and meditation.