Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Fatty Liver Reversal

Just to show it wasn't a fluke, reader "Steve" replicates the experiment:
I had a similar problem as what Sam described, and it just happened to coincide with my discovery of and commitment to a new eating plan (based on low/good carb, high in good fat and omega 3, and good protein--basically a mix of paleo, primal, low carb, whatever they call it). I consider myself lucky to have had great fortune in my timing of finding out about my fatty liver.

My ALT and AST [markers of liver damage] had been at 124 and 43 respectively, and then still at 80 and 30 in a follow up a few months later. I weighed in at about 205 (I'm 6'1.5" on a slimmish frame), which was my heaviest. I had been on a basic American (bad) diet. The whole thing shocked me, especially after a CT with contrast showed the fatty deposits on my liver (and prior to that, when the muddy ultrasound revealed a fatty liver and a possible pancreatic mass, later ruled out by the CT). Like Sam, though I was surely overweight, I was not fat or heavy. (Most people have noticed I look leaner, but are shocked when I disclose how much weight I have lost since they say "I cannot believe you had that much to lose.")

At about the same time I found out about my liver issue, I had been getting into reading about diet and health (something I had done once when I read the Zone stuff from Sears many years ago). I practically dove through Taubes, Eades, Cordain, and a bunch of blogs (including yours), and I made a commitment to fix my problem.

I started a pretty severe regimen at first, which included only protein and good fats with a minimal amount of non-starchy fruits and vegetables. Almost immediately, I started losing weight and body fat (as measured by an electrical impedance scale). I have always supplemented with fish oil, but I added krill oil and I also started eating grass-fed beef and pastured eggs and pastured pork as much as possible. I have added some coconut oil and pastured butter to my diet as well. I have dropped almost 40 pounds, I am down to about 10-11% body fat (from 24%), and my ALT/AST on my last test was 24/14 [normal]. I am getting another test soon, and I expect similar results.
And a later comment:
I can add to the story that I first found out about the fatty liver on a routine new patient blood screening when I moved to a new town. I can also add that it took a bit of initiative on my part to get to the right diagnosis. The first doctor suspected hepatitis, but when blood work ruled that out, he ordered the imagining tests. Once I was referred to a GI specialist, it was a quick diagnosis. Still, I had to undertake myself to figure out the best diet. The GI recommended eliminating white bread, rice, pasta, starches, etc. but also recommended lowering fat intake. Having done some of my reading on diet and health, I knew to follow the former advice and to modify the latter to be "get plenty of fat, but make sure its the right kind."
Steve took the initiative and fixed his damaged liver. He modified his GI doctor's advice based on what he had read about nutrition, with excellent results. I suspect his doctor will be all ears next time Steve comes into his office.

The liver is a remarkable organ. Besides being your "metabolic grand central station", it's the only organ in the human body that can regenerate almost completely. It can be 75% obliterated, and it will grow back over time. Fatty liver and NASH are largely reversible.


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