The Wellness Revolution
Is Your Liver Causing You to Gain Weight?
Recently I tuned into a live webinar with Dr. Alan Christianson, NMD, about why your liver may be playing a role in your inability to lose weight. I thought this was an interesting concept, because as Dr. Christianson mentions in this webinar, fatty liver is an extremely common condition, making weight loss difficult, perhaps even impossible. However, the good news is you can heal your liver, and start to burn fat.
Time and time again I have patients come to my office and tell me they eat well and exercise, but they CAN’T lose weight. Sound familiar?
What is Fatty Liver?
When you have a fatty liver, this essential organ cannot take triglycerides (fats) from foods or fat storage in the body and convert it into energy via the body’s chemical process of beta-oxidation. Triglycerides are energy dense fuel (triglycerides come from carbohydrates, alcohol, dietary fats, ketones, and protein resistant starches), however in order for triglycerides to be burned as fuel we need glycogen to get the process started. The analogy Dr. Christianson used was think of triglycerides are a big log you want to burn on the fire; you can’t just light a match and expect the log to ignite. Glycogen is the kindling you need to get the log (triglycerides) to burn. When you can’t burn this fat it leads to an excess of triglycerides that accumulate on the liver itself or in the body.
Fatty liver affects nearly one-third of adults. The early symptoms of this condition are fatigue (you may be dependent on caffeine to get the day started), mood swings, irritable bowel syndrome, sore or weak muscles, headaches, erratic appetite changes (especially cravings after 8pm), and poor sleep. One of the largest indicators of a fatty liver, aside from a tissue biopsy (which confirms the diagnosis), is your height to waist ratio. This is very simple to calculate, for example if you are 5 feet tall (60 inches tall) you want a waist circumference that is half or less (i.e. 30 inches or under). A waist circumference larger than half your height is a strong predictor of not only fatty liver, but also a poor heart and brain health.
How Can You Heal Your Liver?
Here are some basic tips and supplements that support the liver:
- Avoid extreme diets as they can exclude food categories which then cause you to miss out on nutrients and phyto-chemicals that are beneficial to the body. The focus should be on total fuel (food) load.
- Ensure you are getting adequate protein in the diet. The liver uses amino acids derived from protein in its detox pathways, without protein the liver doesn’t function optimally.
- Sleep, more importantly, deep restorative sleep is required for glycogen production. Remember that we need the kindling (glycogen) to light the fire (burn triglycerides and fat).
- Stress management is key. High cortisol (stress hormone) levels inhibit the liver from functioning optimally.
- Balance your hormones. If we have hormonal imbalance, such as too much estrogen, insulin resistance, and thyroid dysfunction, this can negatively impact our major organ systems including the liver.
- Foods that support the liver’s function include: olive oil, cinnamon, ginger, green tea, tomato juice (low sodium), blueberries, artichoke, and cruciferous vegetables (garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.)
- Supplements that benefit the liver: curcuma longa (turmeric), licorice root, dandelion, methylcobalamin (vitamin B12), chlorella, milk thistle, wild yam, vitamins A, D, & E.
The Metabolic Reset
If you’re struggling to lose weight, get on track with your nutrition and lifestyle choices, or just want to get started on a healthier path consider a metabolic reset. Metabolic resets consist of:
- A high quality protein shake in the morning and at noon. Protein should be vegetable based and higher pH (alkaline).
- An evening meal.
- Anytime snacks such as cooked or raw vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.
- Repaying sleep debt (resetting your day-night internal clock).
- And, micro-workouts that result in an ideal weight loss is 1-2 lbs per inch (waist circumference).
Metabolic resets are ideally completed under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.
The Good News
The liver can completely regenerate itself in 28 days if given optimal circumstances. Once your liver is working optimally your body can regulate digestion, weight, energy, and appetite.
For more information feel free to reach out to me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Yours in health,
Dr. Kate Klein ND
About the Author
Dr. Kate Klein is a licensed naturopathic doctor and clinic director at Your Health Collective, an integrative wellness clinic located in the heart of Ajax. Dr. Klein and her team offer services including, naturopathic medicine, holistic nutrition, acupuncture, osteopathy, and psychotherapy to patients of all ages. Practitioners at Your Health Collective provide a collaborative approach to patient care through a variety of natural treatments and solutions for health concerns ranging from disordered sleep, allergies, fertility, headaches, digestive concerns, and much more. We believe that health is more than just the absence of disease; health is when we function at our best through proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. For more information about Dr. Klein, naturopathic medicine, or our clinic please visit: www.yourhealthcollective.ca