A choline deficiency can cause fatty liver thus, restoring optimal choline levels in the body is essential for reversing fatty liver. There is both a genetic component related to fatty liver and choline deficiency that contributes to fatty liver.
Fatty liver is becoming an epidemic problem affecting approximately 25% of the US population. A choline deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of developing fatty liver.
Symptoms of fatty liver
- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- weight gain
- insulin resistance
- pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen
There are things that you can start doing today to reverse fatty liver such as, eating foods high in choline to support the PEMT gene and transportation of fats out of the liver.
First off, what is a fatty liver?
Fatty liver is simply the build of up of fat in the liver with the 2 primary forms of fatty liver including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
While often people with NAFLD do not experience severe symptoms some individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will develop a more aggressive form of fatty liver disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. NASH is marked by liver inflammation and can progress to advanced scarring of the liver and liver failure.
Symptoms related to NASH include:
- abdominal swelling
- enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin surface
- enlarged spleen
- red palms
- yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Fatty liver disease is the most common reason for abnormal liver dysfunction. With the liver having over 500 functions in the body, it stands to reason that liver dysfunction has far-reaching implications throughout the entire body.
While the fatty liver can have several underlying causes, a primary underlying cause of fatty liver that not too many people know about is the hereditary component of fatty liver. Having SNPs in the PEMT gene increases the likelihood of developing a fatty liver. But don’t worry, ensuring adequate choline intake helps to prevent and possibly reverse fatty liver.
The role of choline to reverse fatty liver
The PEMT gene is responsible for making phosphatidylcholine, and choline is required to make phosphatidylcholine.
Phosphatidylcholine is involved in transporting fats out of the liver. When phosphatidylcholine synthesis is inhibited due to a choline deficiency or SNPs in the PEMT gene, then fats cannot get out of the liver. Instead, the fats will build up in the liver contributing to the fatty liver!
Humans ingesting diets deficient in the nutrient choline can develop fatty liver because phosphatidylcholine is required for liver secretion of triacylglycerol in very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) out of the liver. As you can see, there is both a genetic component and a nutritional deficiency component to fatty liver.
A key component to reverse fatty liver with choline is by eating a diet high in choline, which is required by the PEMT gene to make Phosphatidylcholine.
Foods highest in choline include:
- eggs yolks
- whole eggs
- soybean lecithin and sunflower lecithin
- shitake mushrooms
- soy flour
Lower choline foods include:
- lima beans
- mung beans
What causes choline deficiency?
A primary cause of choline deficiency and fatty liver is eating a vegan or vegetarian diet. The reason why is because the richest food sources of choline are in eggs and liver from animals. Choline is difficult for vegans to obtain through their diet in sufficient quantities.
Many people do not consume enough choline-rich foods, which can lead to a deficiency. A deficiency and choline can contribute to the fatty liver, which is why eating foods high in choline to reverse fatty liver is essential.
Supplementing with Optimal PC from seeking health contains phosphatidylcholine from non-GMO sunflower lecithin. Optimal PC is a fantastic supplement to help prevent and reverse fatty liver.
To find out if you have SNPs in the PEMT gene and a decreased ability to make phosphatidylcholine for fatty liver, you can do an at home saliva test using the Ancestry DNA test kit.
You can then use the raw data from Ancestry DNA to generate your strategene report that will reveal if you have SNPs in the PEMT gene that could predispose you to fatty liver problems, especially if your diet is deficient in choline.
This post walks you through what you can expect from genetic testing and your strategene report.
Another warning symptom to pay attention to with fatty liver is bloating, especially in the upper abdominal area.
But how does fatty liver cause bloating?
Well, it all starts with the ability of the body to produce phosphatidylcholine, which is also needed to keep bile flowing from the gallbladder. The liver is responsible for producing bile, which is antimicrobial and prevents excess bacteria from growing in the small intestine and causing bloating, as in the case of SIBO.
SIBO, gallbladder dysfunction, and fatty liver are all connected. But again, it all starts with ensuring optimal phosphatidylcholine levels so that fats can get out of the liver and so that the gallbladder releases ANTIMICROBIAL bile to prevent bacterial fermentation in the small intestine. Excess fermentation in the small intestine that causes bloating is a primary symptom of SIBO.
Foods to avoid with fatty liver
The sugar fructose is one of the worst foods for causing fatty liver. Fructose is found in fruit, but it is the processed fructose-sweetened beverages and processed pre-packaged foods containing fructose that contribute to fatty liver the most.
Glucose can be metabolized and used by all cells of the body and stored in adipose tissue (fat cells) throughout the body. Fructose is primarily metabolized by the liver and turned into stored fat in the liver. Excess fructose from processed foods is converted to fat in the liver!
The metabolism of fructose in the liver stimulates de novo lipogenesis (the making of new fat) that is stored in the liver, which leads to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Foods highest in fructose include:
- apple juice
- pineapple juice
- grape juice
- commercial soda pop
- commercial salad dressings
- sauces such as thousand island
- bbq sauce
- dried figs
- dried apricots
- dried peaches
- raw grapes
- commercial cookies.
These foods should be eliminated from the diet or dramatically reduced to reverse fatty liver, especially the processed foods high in fructose such as fruit juices, soda, and commercial sauces.
While there can be many underlying dietary, lifestyle, and genetic factors contributing to a fatty liver, a diet deficient in choline and SNP’s in the PEMT gene can also cause fatty liver.
Ensuring adequate choline for fatty liver from the diet is crucial for preventing fatty liver along with supplementing with phosphatidylcholine if needed. Eliminating highly processed fructose-containing foods and beverages are also essential for preventing fatty liver.
According to the Ministry of Health for Australia and New Zealand, the recommended daily intake of choline for men is 550 mg and 425 mg for women.
The upper recommended intake of choline for men and women over the age of 19 is 3500 mg/day.
This Low Fodmap Breakfast Scramble is great preventing fatty liver and cleansing the gallbladder as it is an excellent source of choline.
This post teaches you how to reverse fatty liver for weight loss 🙂
Reversing fatty liver requires a multi-prong approach with both dietary and supplement support.
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