Has your doctor diagnosed you with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes AND fatty liver?
Both fatty liver (also known as NAFLD or Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and type 2 diabetes are becoming very costly health problems. Why?
The biggest reason is our unhealthy eating and exercise habits.
Doctors are just recently starting to check blood work for high levels of liver enzymes that might mean you have too much fat around your liver. Those enzymes are ALT and AST if you have your recent lab results handy.
So how do you fix that problem? Logic would tell us we should eat less fat right?
Well, that logic would be wrong. The same answer applies to the question of fatty liver and diabetes as it does to high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
It’s not the fat we are eating. It’s the sugar that is the problem. And mainly processed sugars.
I want to share 3 changes you can consider in helping reverse both type 2 diabetes and fatty liver.
Change 1: Eat foods that contain choline.
Research has shown that choline could be a key factor in slowing or stopping the fat accumulation in the liver. Here are my suggestions for eating foods that contain choline AND will be healthy for diabetes.
#1 is grass fed beef liver. Other beef or chicken has choline also but in lower amounts. Also, a great carb free protein source. I personally don’t like the texture of liver but plan to experiment with ways to get this healthy food into my diet occasionally this year.
#2 is Eggs. Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline, and a carb free protein source. I love eggs and can definitely eat them several times a week but my goal this year is to find local, free range eggs. You can also read this blog post on 6 reasons eggs are healthy!
Fish: cod, salmon, tuna. Fish are another carb-free source of protein and one of the few sources of omega-3 fats that are great for reducing inflammation. Choose wild-caught if you can.
Vegetables: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, red potatoes baked with skin, shiitake mushrooms. Eating more vegetables is a big challenge for those of us that like meat-based meals. This is my main nutrition goal this year is to make sure I am more consistent with having plenty of vegetables in our meals.
Kidney beans: if you like chili or bean salad this is an easy one. Just remember to plan one bean-based meal each week.
Quinoa: this grain is a higher protein grain that can be a replacement for rice or other starch. The key is to find the seasoning blend you like. If you are unfamiliar with quinoa, it might be easiest to start with the pre-seasoned box options that are available.
Yogurt: besides being a source of choline, yogurt is a great source of calcium and probiotic. Look for yogurt without too many chemicals or added coloring. It does not have to be fat-free.
Change 2: Avoid foods with added fructose, especially HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).
These are highly processed sugars that are not good for the liver or blood sugars. You will need to start looking at the ingredient listing on packages to know if the food has fructose. Look at sauces, salad dressings, syrups, and sodas.
Here is an example of 2 barbecue sauce labels:
- INGREDIENTS: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, DISTILLED VINEGAR, TOMATO PASTE, HONEY, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, SALT, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL FLAVOR, PINEAPPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, SPICE, SODIUM BENZOATE, (PRESERVATIVE), NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, MOLASSES, GARLIC*, CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, MUSTARD FLOUR, TAMARIND, CELERY SEED. *DRIED
- INGREDIENTS: TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATO PASTE), CANE SUGAR, VINEGAR, MOLASSES, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, SALT, NATURAL HICKORY SMOKE, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE, (DISTILLED VINEGAR, MOLASSES, CORN SYRUP, WATER, SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, GARLIC POWDER, SUGAR SPICES, ANCHOVIES, TAMARIND, AND NATURAL FLAVOR), PEPPER, GARLIC POWDER, ONION POWDER, CARAMEL COLOR.
As you can see, the first one has HFCS as the first ingredient, which is the big red flag. The second product has cane sugar as the second ingredient, but I am more comfortable with cane sugar because it is less processed.
Change 3: Drink coffee or tea.
Drinking two to three cups of coffee per day is effective at helping reverse fatty liver, according to research studies. Coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Tea is also beneficial but has not shown to have as strong of an effect.
Remember though, if you add the sweeteners, which may have HFCS, you are defeating the purpose.
What about weight loss?
Both exercise and weight loss are the best things you can do to reversing both type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. How you accomplish that and keep it going are the hardest part.
A 7%-10% weight loss has been shown to resolve fatty liver in 64%-90% of patients.
A weight loss of 15% or more is currently recommended to reverse type 2 diabetes.
If you are struggling with losing weight or figuring out what to eat to reverse type 2 diabetes or fatty liver, and would like the help of a coach, contact me, Karen Marschel, RDN LD CDCES.
I am a registered dietitian, licensed in Minnesota, and a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist. Both diabetes and fatty liver are health problems my parents have had and I am trying to avoid them! My passion is to help others find a way to eating healthy to reverse these conditions without giving up their favorite foods.
If you are a woman over 40 who is also trying to fight these health problems, you might be interested in joining my email list. Click here to get my free guide and get on my email list!