What Women Should Know about Fatty Liver Disease
It seems most people associate liver disease with drinking alcohol—a lot of alcohol. But did you know you can get a common liver disease even if you don’t drink alcohol or only just a little? Did you also know that this liver disease, known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is more common among postmenopausal women? But why?
First of all, the cause of NAFLD is uncertain. However, risks include obesity, which can involve eating too many calories that result in excessive amounts of fat building up in the liver. Other risks include high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and having had gastric bypass surgery. Most people don’t have any symptoms, but some can experience fatigue, weight loss, red palms, enlarged spleen, yellowing of the skin and eyes, and pain in the upper right abdomen.
The significant decline in estrogen among postmenopausal women seems to play a big role in the development of NAFLD. Estrogen helps protect the liver in several ways, including the prevention of fibrous tissue in the liver and making choline, which is necessary for healthy liver function. Once estrogen levels are very low, these protections disappear. Although there is no cure for NAFLD, the good news is that you can reverse it.
That’s why it’s important for women in menopause and postmenopause to keep their weight in a healthy range. Women who are overweight who lose 10 percent of their body weight can dramatically reduce the amount of fat in the liver and minimize inflammation as well. Also avoid sugary foods, follow an anti-inflammatory diet, and exercise daily, including resistance and strength exercises several days a week. Include at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber in your diet every day and stay well hydrated.
You can also help detox your liver by drinking lemon water first thing every morning and regularly enjoying turmeric or ginger tea. Fresh grapefruit juice contains two potent antioxidants that may protect liver cells, reduce inflammation, and decrease fat buildup in the liver. To learn more about women’s health, tips on living with menopause, nutrition, and other health issues, follow my social media posts.