The liver is a vital organ, which means that liver disease can be life threatening. Today, the risk of fatty liver disease has become increasingly widespread in India, with studies estimating that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects between 9 to 32 percent of the population. The risk and prevalence of this disease is significantly higher in obese and diabetic individuals. Since fatty liver disease is a condition in which fats accumulate in the liver beyond normal levels, it is imperative for us to take steps to address fatty liver before the onset of fatty liver disease.
Once the amount of fat in the liver accounts for over 5 percent of liver weight, it is classified as fatty liver disease. The reason why all of us should be concerned about fatty liver is because this is a silent disease and symptoms typically develop only in the later stages. Fortunately, the buildup of fat in the liver and liver damage can be easily prevented and reversed if dealt with early and appropriately. This requires a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as the use of Ayurvedic medicines to support healthy liver function.
Top Home Remedies for Healthy Liver Function
1. Fight Obesity
Obesity and excess body weight is regarded as one of the biggest risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This makes it critical for anyone to first lose excess weight as the primary strategy for minimizing the risk of fatty liver or reversing the disease. Keep in mind that Ayurveda does not advocate over exercising, as some amount of body fat is also needed for optimal health. Weight loss should simply aim to restore and maintain healthy body weight. Taking up mild to moderate intensity exercise programs including yoga, walking, and swimming will help to maintain healthy body weight, reducing fat buildup in the liver. Diet is equally important to achieve this goal and we’re getting there next.
2. Ayurvedic Diet
As is always the case with Ayurveda, moderation is the key and this also applies to diet recommendations. To prevent or treat fatty liver and promote liver health, it would help to follow general Ayurvedic dietary recommendations, although it would be best to get a personalized diet plan for your dosha balance. Ayurvedic diet plans are regarded as extremely effective for promoting liver health as they are not restrictive, instead emphasizing balanced nutrition with a wide range of foods. The only stress is on eliminating or limiting any intake of processed foods that are loaded with trans fats, sugar, and other additives. Instead, your diet should primarily comprise of natural and fresh foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
3. Get Active
Adopting a regular exercise program is one of the best remedies to prevent or manage fatty liver disease as research shows that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is strongly associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Ideally, you should get 20 to 30 minutes of mild to moderate physical activity each day. Aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming are great options, but yoga sessions can be particularly beneficial with poses like the Locust Pose, Frog Pose, Downward Dog, and Garland Pose known to support liver function. In fact, a study that examined the effects of yoga therapy and Ayurveda on a liver cirrhosis patient noted improvements in liver, renal, and cardiorespiratory functions.
4. Avoid Toxins
If you are struggling to make broad changes to diet and lifestyle to fight liver disease, at the very least you should avoid causing further liver damage from toxins. This means quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol and other drugs that are known to increase toxicity levels in the liver. In addition to toxins from tobacco and alcohol, we are also often exposed to toxins from aerosol sprays, cosmetics, and cleaning products. This is why it is best to opt for natural or Ayurvedic cleaning products and cosmetics that are made with herbal ingredients that pose no risk of toxicity.
Ayurvedic Medicines for Fatty Liver
Kalmegh, also known as the ‘king of bitters’ is one of the best herbal ingredients to protect the liver and treat fatty liver problems. You can consume kalmegh in the form of supplements or look for Ayurvedic liver medicines that include it as one of the main ingredients. Kalmegh is extremely effective as a liver protective medicine because of phytochemicals called diterpenic labdanes that are present in the herb. Studies have shown that it they exhibit powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective (liver protecting) properties.
Guggulu is one of the most popular and reputed Ayurvedic herbs today. It is widely available as a herbal supplement and is also used as an important ingredient in some of the best Ayurvedic medicines for fatty liver disease. The herb or resin is effective at promoting liver health because of the presence of a phytosteroid called guggulsterone. Research has demonstrated that this phytosteroid reduces free fatty acids in serum and the liver, lowering triglycerides and phospholipids levels. It also enhances the liver’s capacity for metabolizing and excreting cholesterol.
Neem is one of the most popular and easily accessible herbs across India, with a long history of use in Ayurveda. You can enjoy the health benefits of neem by making your own herbal tea with neem leaves added in. Neem is also a common ingredient in some of the most effective natural medicines for fatty liver disease. The herb is effective at protecting the liver as it has a balancing effect on both pitta and kapha, while also strengthening meda dhatu agni to ensure optimal digestion and metabolism. Evidence from studies has highlighted neem’s hepatoprotective effects, reducing fatty tissue accumulation in the liver and promoting liver function.
In addition to the herbs listed above, you will also benefit from adding ingredients like haldi and garlic to your regular diet. Liver disease progresses slowly, making it important for you to take steps to prevent or treat liver problems as soon as possible. Whether using Ayurvedic remedies or medicines for liver function, it is also important to be consistent and disciplined as the benefits of such approaches accumulate over time.
Botanically classified as Picrorhiza kurroa, kutki is known for its detox, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Although available in powder form, it is best consumed in combination with other hepatoprotective herbs like guggulu and kalmegh, so it makes sense to look for herbal liver supplements that contain the herb. The bitter herb is regarded as an effective natural treatment for fatty liver and other liver disorders, with studies showing that it can even reverse fatty infiltration of the liver and lower hepatic lipid levels.
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