“Fatty liver,” short for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), afflicts more than 80 percent of women over 45 and causes symptoms like fatigue, body aches, and brain fog. It occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver, and folks who carry extra pounds or have high cholesterol are at greater risk. Weight loss through diet and exercise is the first line of treatment for fatty liver disease, but these money-savvy natural cures can help eliminate liver fat minus the cost of a lifestyle overhaul.
The monounsaturated fats found in avocado are actually good for your liver! Italian researchers report that eating two avocados weekly can help the liver burn stored fat 33 percent faster — plus, it protects the organ to cut the risk of future liver fat accumulation by 55 percent. Other great sources of these healing fats include nuts, seeds, and olives.
Getting 30 minutes of exercise daily has been shown to help the liver burn off 39 percent of its stored fat, report British researchers in the journal Diabetologia. Exercising enough to break a sweat triggers the breakdown of fat in the liver, explains Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, MD, who studies liver fat. He often recommends dancing to his patients because so many find it fun and easy to stick with. Not a dancer? Try jumping rope, stair-stepping or a brisk walk. Can’t spare a half hour? Three 10-minute sessions daily work just as well.
It’s so powerful at flushing out liver fat that a daily supplement of vitamin D can cut your liver’s fat stores by 50 percent, say researchers in India. Turns out the vitamin switches on liver enzymes that help you quickly burn stubborn fat stores for fuel. For results, aim for 4,000 IU of vitamin D-3 a day.
Drinking three cups of green tea daily could decrease your liver’s fat stores by 30 percent, report researchers. That’s because compounds in green tea called catechins energize the cellular energy engines in the liver, explains study co-author Sara Safi, PhD. Bonus: A recent Chinese study suggests the same daily dose can also block fat formation from ever occurring, cutting your risk of future liver troubles by 56 percent!
Sniffing This Spice
The aroma of cuminaldehyde, the active compound in cumin, could help ease fatty liver disease, report researchers. In an animal study, exposing rodents with fatty liver to the scent of cuminaldehyde for four weeks completely prevented the 64 percent liver weight gain seen in those rodents that didn’t experience the cumin scent. According to study authors, cuminaldehyde’s antioxidant properties fight oxidative damage that triggers fat storage in the liver. They recommend adding a few drops of cumin essential oil to an aromatherapy diffuser daily or incorporating one teaspoon of cumin powder into soups, stews, and curries every day.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.