Fatty liver disease

January 2nd, 2019

More than 100 million Americans have potentially life threatening fatty liver disease and most do not even know it. Overeating and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol this holiday season could put someone already with the disease on the fast track to liver failure.

“There are usually no symptoms associated with fatty liver disease and no pain, so it goes undiagnosed in many people. Overtime if not diagnosed the condition has the potential to cause end stage liver failure.” said Dr. Candice Dunn, an internal medicine primary care physician at Houston Methodist Primary Care Group. “In fact, the disease is so prevalent that it will soon overtake Hepatitis C as the No. 1 reason for liver transplantation in the United States.”

Fatty liver disease is a group of disorders which all cause fat deposits in liver cells. This disrupts normal liver functioning and at a certain point can lead to liver failure and in some cases death. It is thought that insulin resistance could be the main factor initiating the disease, but genetics, environmental factors, weight, diet, exercise and many other factors can contribute. By definition the disease is not caused by alcohol intake but once diagnosed alcohol intake of any amount can severely worsen the disease. Many people with this condition suffer from metabolic syndrome, a constellation of factors which includes a large waist circumference (men greater than 40 inches, women greater than 35 inches), high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance that heighten the risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

“Fatty liver disease, much like type 2 diabetes, is manageable with proper diet and exercise. If you lose seven to 10 percent of your current weight, you can eliminate some fat from your liver,” Dunn said. “I would encourage people this holiday season to use portion control but still enjoy the holidays.”

Dunn says avoid supersizing food; use a smaller plate; don’t fill up the entire plate; don’t go back for seconds; limit the amount of sweets and, of course, limit alcohol intake to one or two drinks per week.”

Vigorous exercise, such as weight lifting, swimming, running or aerobics, between 75 and 150 minutes a week with a heart rate of 120 or above during the holiday season and beyond will help you tackle this problem. Dunn suggests eating fruits and vegetables before attending a family function or holiday party will help a person feel full and avoid foods high in fat. It has been found that up to 20 percent of people with fatty liver disease will develop cirrhosis, which can be life threatening or require liver transplant. Dunn says that number is likely to grow as the nation’s obesity epidemic continues to get worse.

“If people are concerned about whether or not they have fatty liver disease, they can ask their physician to order liver function testing,” Dunn said. “The good thing is that with a few lifestyle changes this is a disease that is very manageable. Portion control and exercise are the keys to keeping it in check.”

To learn more about Houston Methodist Primary Care Group, visit them at houstonmethodist.org/pcg or call 713-441-7265.

Trust Your Gut for Health and Wellness

September 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Your intuition communicates to all the nerve cells in your body, that ‘gut feeling’ you get is your subconscious mind sending you signals. The secret is learning how to listen to these instinctive feelings and trust your gut. America spends more money on healthcare than any other nation yet has the highest disease rate. In a land of opportunity, when did we put a price tag on our health and wellness? Food stripped of nutritional value is more convenient, easily accessible and affordable in our fast-paced society. We are conditioned to compartmentalize things we don’t see and can’t name, creating a detachment to the food we eat and how it got to our plate. How can consumers dictate their health in a world conflicted with dietary fads, advertising campaigns and misleading health claims? The public becomes confused when given small amounts of truth within a large amount of misinformation. In a society where we cannot seem to unite as a whole, have we lost connection with ourselves and our planet along the way?

Our body is an ecosystem. The protective microbiome in our gut is a community of like-minded organisms. This diverse population has a common goal: to get the most nutrients out of food so we can get the most out of life. A central philosophy of well-being is to eat high fiber, nutrient-dense foods. Our friendly gut bacteria thrive on fiber to promote glucose homeostasis, weight loss, and absorption of important nutrients. Fiber naturally detoxes the body and is essential for mental and emotional health. According to the ‘National Institutes of Health,’ integrated evidence concludes that metabolism of a high fiber diet can alter gene expression in the brain to prevent neurodegeneration and promote regeneration. Our relationship with food is much deeper than we thought. The gut sends unconscious signals to our brain via the vagus nerve, 50% of dopamine and 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract. These are the ‘drugs’ that make us feel happy and content. The stomach directly communicates to our brain to ‘manipulate’ behavior, it’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Processed foods high in saturated fats and artificial ingredients fool your brain to consume more calories because it doesn’t contain the nutrients your body needs. The good news is you can gradually change the community of organisms within you to impact your quality of life and boost energy. Increase fiber intake slowly and drink plenty of water. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.

Combine a legume with a whole-grain or nut and seed to create a complete protein. According to the ‘US National Library of Medicine,’ a diet rich in legumes is a predictor of survival of older people in different ethnicities. Legumes deliver a wide range of nutrients, including lean protein, fiber and antioxidants with relatively few calories. Soak legumes overnight before cooking. It is simple to prepare with layers of flavor and texture. Start with a neutral oil like sunflower, make a paste with vegetable stock, curry, garlic and your choice of vegetables. Legumes are a great addition to soups. It is delicious pureed in dips, dressings and spreads.

Healthy fats are essential to absorb nutrients, achieve optimal body composition and balance hormones. Research published in the “Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine,’ states a handful of nuts a day lowers the risks of many diseases and reduces weight gain. Nuts are packed with protein and fat. They help you age gracefully, improve memory function and maintain a strong, lively heart. Eliminating a macronutrient from your diet creates a calorie deficit which is a short-term fix with long-term adverse effects on mood and health. Balance and enjoy an assortment of whole-foods, be active in mind and body, enjoy life and drink plenty of water. This is the most promising way to live a healthful, happy life.

Truly Care
There are many advantages to a whole-foods lifestyle. It can simplify your life and protect our land, water and energy sources. The hardest part is knowing where to begin, with time and preparation it can be effortless and affordable to your specific needs. You as a citizen have a choice and a vote with your dollar. Knowledgeable consumers can change the economy as we know it. Declaration of mental and physical strength is the ultimate independence from society. The answer comes from honesty and integrity by evaluating scientific information without bias or corporate agenda. A food labeled ‘vegan,’ ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you. It can still be processed, high in sugars, and lacking nutrients. Don’t let yourself be consumed by a deceitful and saturated market. Educate yourself.

Have Fun & Be Creative 🙂
A whole-foods lifestyle includes thousands of possibilities from a diverse array of flavors, colors, aromas and textures. It’s not a strict regimen, its liberating. Let it be unique to your taste buds and personality. If you have concerns, ask your doctor for a blood test, evaluate results and adjust habits accordingly. Trust your gut.

Feel free to contact me at Sumerdene@gmail.com