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Good Health for 2014: Five Ways to Protect Against Fatty Liver

Incorporating these five, simple strategies into your life can help you lose excess weight and prevent fatty liver disease.

Most of us are not familiar with nationwide statistics, making a big-picture perspective on obesity hard to grasp. Thus, obesity and one of its most hazardous consequences, fatty liver disease, is typically underestimated. Representative of the up and coming generation, childhood rates of obesity and fatty liver disease are growing exponentially. Since healthy lifestyle practices constitute the most effective strategies for preventing obesity and a fatty liver, the trend towards these conditions illustrates the importance of implementing lifestyle changes. In an effort to prevent or minimize the development of obesity and a fatty liver this year, here are five easy ways anyone can start on a healthy lifestyle path.

Obesity

Describing an excessive amount of body fat, obesity is gaining more and more converts. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults and about one in five children and adolescents are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among youngsters aged 2 to 19 has nearly tripled. Unfortunately, obesity is more problematic than many realize, serving as the largest risk factor for a long list of chronic and potentially serious diseases. The reason diet and exercise is repeated so frequently in healthcare settings is because even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. Increasing physical activity and improving your diet are the two safest, most effective means for achieving modest weight loss.

Our way of life has evolved into a seemingly endless chain of systems aimed at making our lives more efficient, economical, convenient and quick. Some examples include:

  • Automation and technology have transformed work and play into sedentary activities.
  • Businesses appealing to the modern family’s time constraints have universalized fast and convenient foods.
  • Restaurants increase portion size to appeal to large appetites and offer “more for the money.”

As the next generation of Americans, children and adolescents should determine where to best focus our health concerns. With rates tripling since 1980, the steady increase in childhood obesity is a valid and significant concern. Unfortunately, the “do as I say, not as I do” approach rarely works – especially for help losing weight. As published in a December 2013 edition of the medical journal PLoS One, targeting adults with lifestyle interventions is likely the most efficient way to leave a high residual impact on children.

Fatty Liver

While experts estimate that one third of American adults have fatty liver disease, it is also a growing problem in children. The growing obesity epidemic is believed to be a main driver of the rising prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children and adolescents. Casually referred to as a fatty liver, NAFLD is the most common liver abnormality in children aged 2 to 19 years.

The growing obesity epidemic is the primary force behind the increase of pediatric NAFLD. Studies indicate that about half of obese children may have a fatty liver. Although the cause of fatty liver in children and adolescents is not fully understood, experts know that over-nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle are key contributors. Data shows an increased intake of fructose, primarily from soft drinks, as a strong contributor to obesity. Although the effect of fructose consumption in children on NAFLD has yet to be established, studies in adults have shown that consumption of soft drinks is a risk factor for the development of NAFLD.

5 Steps to Reduce Obesity and NAFLD

Making lifestyle changes is a process that involves practice and commitment. No one is expected to transform from sedentary and obese into active and svelte in one week; however, gradually incorporating healthful changes into your routine guarantees steady weight loss and improved liver health. The following five steps do not require a doctor’s prescription but can make a lasting impact on your liver’s longevity:

  1. Carbonated Beverages – If you are a soda drinker, make the switch to seltzer (sparkling water) with a squeeze of lemon. While still offering bubbly refreshment, seltzer is free of fructose and chemical sweeteners – both of which lead to fat accumulation in the liver. In addition, adding fresh lemon juice aids the liver in defending against damage.
  2. Move Your Body – The longer you sit in front of a TV, computer, tablet or other type of screen, the worse off your liver is. Studies show that even modest changes in physical activity that may or may not lead to weight reduction can improve liver function tests, reduce liver inflammation and improve the outlook of NAFLD. Experts suggest breaking up sedentary time with bursts of physical activity; like a walk around the block, a short yoga session or three straight minutes of jumping jacks.
  3. Liver Health Supplement – A comprehensive liver support supplement that is natural and safe can help prevent liver harm, stop fat from accumulating in the liver and improve the liver’s resilience. An ideal combination would include herbs like milk thistle, dandelion and curcumin with Vitamin E and N-Acetyl L-Cysteine. Setting a good example of what a comprehensive liver support supplement includes, Clinical LiverSupport contains a synergistic blend of more than 10 ingredients that preserve and protect the liver.
  4. Produce is Perfect – In reality, fruit and vegetables just need to be washed (and maybe peeled or pitted) before being consumed. This makes them the ideal convenience food. Much faster and better for your liver than a fast-food burger and fries meal, fresh fruit and vegetables provide live enzymes, antioxidants, fiber, minerals and natural sugars needed for healthful liver cells. Consume at least five servings of produce each day to steer your body away from obesity and NAFLD.
  5. Portion Size – American restaurants are notorious for super-sizing their meals. In actuality, most people would feel full after eating just half of a typical entrée, but there is some sort of satisfaction to cleaning a plate. Consider bringing half of your restaurant meal home in a bag for your next meal to reduce caloric intake and shed extra pounds. If you find that half a meal doesn’t satisfy you, snack on some fruit or vegetables before going out to eat. At home, follow through with this strategy by shrinking your portion size – and avoid going for seconds.

If 2014 is the year you intend to lose extra weight, prevent a fatty liver or help your children learn how to do the same, make a healthy lifestyle your priority. By following the five simple steps above, you can initiate a biochemical shift in your liver that will exert a dramatic change in your liver’s overall well-being.


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http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/pediatric-nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease, Pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Mary Beth Neirengarten, MA, Retrieved December 17, 2013, Advanstar Communications, Inc., 2013.

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm, Childhood Obesity Facts, Retrieved December 22, 2013, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html, Overweight and Obesity, Retrieved December 21, 2013, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/obesity/DS00314, Obesity, Retrieved December 21, 2013, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2013.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24068459, Pediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: An Increasing Public Health Issue, Berardis S, et al, Retrieved December 21, 2013, European Journal of Pediatrics, September 2013.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24358234, Modeling social transmission dynamics of unhealthy behaviors for evaluating prevention and treatment interventions on childhood obesity, Frerichs LM, et al, Retrieved December 21, 2013, PLoS One, December 2013.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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