Fatty Liver – Put your Liver on a Diet

Fatty Liver – Put your Liver on a Diet

Fatty Liver

Fatty liver, otherwise known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) , has become a global epidemic in the last decade. One quarter to a third of the adult population in North America has fatty liver and many don’t know it. One in ten children also have it, which demonstrates that it’s not caused by alcohol intake.

Effects of Diet on Body

When the documentary “Supersize Me” was released, it showed the damage that fast food, such as fries, burgers and soft drinks can have on the body.

The cardiovascular and immune system are significantly affected by ultra-processed foods and fast foods. The liver processes toxins in our body, and when fed a big proportion of ultra-processed food with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined oils and sugar/sweetened beverages, our insides pay the price of those convenience foods.

There is a link with HFCS and the development of fatty liver disease. There was a study from the National Institute of Health in 2020, by Dr. Michael Karin, which demonstrated that mice developed fatty liver within a month of consuming sugary drinks   

As sugary drinks satisfy our sweet tastes, our liver and mice livers are getting fat with the sugar overload.

Many food companies use HFCS as an additive in their products as a cheap flavouring. In everyday food items, such as baked goods, cereals, pop/soft drinks, coffee flavourings, candies and cookies. Unexpectedly, it’s not just sweet foods that have HFCS, it’s also in savory items, such as pizza, salad dressings, ketchup and barbeque sauces.

Even foods that are seemingly healthy choices, such as yogurt and protein bars may have this sneaky ingredient added for flavour. If the food product is made in a factory and can be unwrapped, that’s a good indication that it may have added sweeteners that can stress our liver.

As liver specialist, Dr. Theodore Friedman, Ph.D. states,

High fructose corn syrup can lead to NAFLD by several mechanisms. It can increase the amount of fat made by the liver. It can also increase inflammation in the liver and can change how the liver metabolizes glucose. It can also increase abdominal fat.”

As the blood cholesterol and triglycerides rise, the liver cells are replaced with fat cells, which promotes liver inflammation. As fatty liver continues and develops, scarring and fibrosis occurs that will eventually lead to irreparable liver cirrhosis. 

The most common cause of death for people with fatty liver is cardiovascular and heart disease, and surprisingly, not liver disease. Fatty liver is a cardiovascular issue more than a liver problem.

Fatty Liver and Cardiovascular Link

Fatty liver is closely linked with poor diet and lifestyle, and may be an indicator of other metabolic dysfunctions happening with the circulatory system.

The diagnosis of fatty liver is an early warning sign of other systemic, internal problems developing inside. Prediabetes is a common condition that is associated with fatty liver, as there is a dysfunction that is occuring with the insulin response and blood sugars, along with elevated triglycerides. As prediabetes and fatty liver diagnoses are frequently diet related, they can be reversed through lifestyle interventions and dietary improvements.

As people who develop fatty liver may also have cardiovascular problems, a Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that can support cardiovascular health, in addition to healing the liver.


Liver Supportive Vegetables

There are foods that are supportive to the liver, and help with building, repairing and detoxifying the body cells and systems.
Cruciferous vegetables and sulfur-containing bulb foods with a phytochemical called allicin support the detoxifying actions of the liver.
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, kale, beet greens, cabbage and arugula are all vegetables that can help the liver. Garlic, onions, leeks and scallions are sulfur containing bulbs that support liver health.

Healthy Fats for Healthy Liver

One might think that a fatty liver develops from all sources of fat in the diet. This is not the case.

As the evidence is evolving, research has shown that fatty liver is more of a result of ultra-processed and fast foods. Components, such as added sugars/sweeteners, refined, processed fats and oils and deep fried foods appear to be the culprits causing the fatty liver epidemic. Changing the ratio of the diet to include more healthful fats, that are found in whole foods with omega-3, monounsaturated and other polyunsaturated fats are important fats and nutrients for liver health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish are the most abundant animal source of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. By including one to two sources of fish, such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring in the weekly diet, the amount of omega -3 fatty acids recommended will most likely be met for recommended daily intakes. These particular types of fish have lower levels of heavy metals, such as mercury and contain an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ground flaxseeds, chia and hemp hearts will offer plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Whole foods, such as avocado, nuts and seeds, plus olive oil will provide some beneficial fats for liver and overall health.

Whole Grains for Fibre and Liver Health

95 % of the North American population is not getting the recommended amount of fibre in their daily diet. Part of the reason may be the amount of ultra-processed foods that are consumed every day. Much of the processed and packaged foods that offer convenience do not provide much in the way of fibre.

By contract, whole, minimally processed foods offer a rich source of fibre. Only plant foods have fibre. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes/beans/lentils, nuts and seeds are all healthy sources of fibre to help with cardiovascular and liver health. Fibre will help reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugars to maintain beneficial blood lipid and glucose levels.

Lose The Fat – Reversing Liver Fat

With some changes in the diet and lifestyle, it’s possible to reverse the effects of fatty liver disease and improve overall health and fitness. Including more whole, minimally processed foods daily, plant forward eating, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial fats can help improve liver and overall cardiovascular health. By reducing the fast foods and prepackaged, convenience food products, this will help with weight management and liver function and health.

To learn more about Fatty Liver – How to Put your liver on a diet, tune in to our podcast, My Wife The Dietitian Ep.39

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast
Water, Water Everywhere – Not Just a Mirage for Good Health

Water, Water Everywhere – Not Just a Mirage for Good Health

Hydration with Water – Why it’s important

H2o is an essential element that we can easily take for granted. Many people did not grow up prioritizing drinking water. A few years ago, athletes were the ones who would carry around water bottles. Nowadays, people of all ages and stages of life carry around reusable water bottles and are more focussed on keeping hydrated.

With the summer heat comes the real risk of dehydration.

For older adults, the thirst receptor response may be blunted. If the feeling of thirst starts, it may indicate you are already dehydrated. This is why being thirsty isn’t necessarily the best indicator of needing to drink something. Other than obvious symptoms of dry mouth, there are many other indicators of dehydration. Headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, cramping, flushed skin, dizziness, nausea and loss of appetite are all possible signs of dehydration.

Take a look at your urine. If it’s concentrated and odorous, there’s a strong possibility that your body needs more fluid. Losing 1% of body weight from fluid can indicate dehydration. When this happens, your body’s ability to function properly declines. For a 170lb man, 1% would mean almost 2 lbs of body weight from fluid. Daily, a human body loses approximately 10 cups (2.5 Lts) of water naturally over a twenty four hour period.


How Fluid Keeps The Body Running

Some necessary bodily functions that water is involved in, include regulation of body temperature. Fluid in perspiration allows the working muscle to release heat more readily that builds up during exercise/movement or work. Water helps to carry nutrients throughout the body and supports excretion of waste molecules. Water is an important lubricant that moistens eyes, cushions joints, protects organs, tissues, in addition to critical higher functioning brain and spinal cord. The amount of water in the bloodstream also helps to regulate blood pressure and heart function. Approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water. In the body, fluid is lost through sweating, breathing and excretion in urine and stool

When ill with a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, fluid requirements are increased to replenish those lost fluids.

Sport and Exercise – Replenish Lost Fluids


When exercising or participating in endurance activities or sports, water requirements are also increased. For those people who participate in active sports (for more than 45 minutes) and either sweat a lot, wear heavy uniforms and equipment or find themselves in a hot and/or humid environment for extended time periods, extra water and sports drinks can offer a way to prevent dehydration, muscle cramps and getting tired too quickly.

Sports, Energy and Other Drinks


Sports drinks contain sugar and electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium to offer the right balance to replace lost perspiration. Sipping on a sports drink, such as Gatorade, Powerade or homemade orange juice with salt every 10 to 15 minutes will help to offer rehydration without causing cramps and bloating that could happen with sugary drinks, such as pop, fruit juice or energy drinks.

Energy drinks that claim to “make you more alert and boost your energy” generally contain caffeine and herbal stimulants that are not considered safe for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. These drinks, such as Monster, Redbull, Full Throttle and Amp should not be confused with sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade. Energy drinks containing stimulants, such as caffeine and herbal additives can accelerate dehydration and lead to

other side effects. Fruit juice and fruit beverages (fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit cocktail) should be kept to a minimum and limited, since they contain a high level of sugar, which can lead to unwanted weight gain (excess fat storage), elevated triglycerides and fluctuations with blood sugar, if diabetes is a concern. Even the ‘all natural’ fruit juice offers high levels of sugar and lacks other nutrients. These sugary drinks offer very little in the way of nutrition and are loaded with sugar and flavouring.

Carbonated beverages, like pop, Big Gulps and Slurpees are also full of sugar and flavouring. Regular intake of these types of drinks do not fit into a healthy lifestyle and can easily lead to excessive calorie intake. Keeping hydrated is very important in the heat and helps the body maintain function and optimal physical ability. Going for a run, bike ride, long hike or playing sports like tennis, hockey, soccer, rugby, basketball, football, or partaking in heavy labour in a hot environment will all be circumstances which increase risk of dehydration. Drinking at least one to two cups (250 ml to 500 ml) of water up to four hours before exercise and drinking another half to 1.5 cups (125 to 375 ml) of fluid about two hours before playing a sport are some guidelines to follow, especially if you have not produced any urine or if urine is dark yellow (indicating the possible start of a dehydration state). Additional signs of chronic inadequate fluid intake may include constipation and urinary tract infections (UTIs). If there’s not enough fluid to help keep stool soft and easy to pass, sluggish bowels and constipation can result. The kidneys excrete fluids and waste substances and if fluid intake is less than optimal, UTIs can result.

Long-term Complications of Chronic Low Fluid Intake


There are long-term complications of inadequate fluid intake, as the body needs enough to function smoothly. Risks of certain diseases and conditions increase if the body’s continually compensating for lack of adequate fluid

Intake. Bladder and colon cancer, heart disease, kidney stones and obesity can be a result of chronic low fluid intake. Researchers at Harvard found that men who drank at least 6 cups of water per day were half as likely to develop bladder cancer than those who drank less. Inadequate fluid intake can impair the activity of important enzymes in the liver that remove cancer causing

Substances. In the Pacific Northwest, there was a study in Seattle, Washington that concluded women who drank a minimum of 5 cups of water per day had a 45% lower risk of colon cancer than those women who drank 2 cups or less per day.

In the same study, men who drank a minimum of 4 cups/day of water had a 30% reduced risk of developing colon cancer than those who drank less water. With death from heart attack, in a Loma Linda University study with 20,000 7th Day Adventists men and women, those women who drank 5 cups of water per day were 41% less likely to die of a heart attack than those drinking less water.

 Drinking water may act to thin the viscosity of the blood to help prevent clots. In the same study, there was a 54% reduced risk of men dying of heart attack, if they drank a minimum of 5 cups of water per day. Men have a higher risk of developing kidney stones. Drinking water increases the volume of urine and oxalate stones can develop from concentrated urine. Risks increase for people who migrate from moderate temperature climates to hotter climates, as their body may not be able to regulate if the water intake doesn’t increase accordingly. For those ‘snowbirds’ who retire to more comfortable, warm environments, development of kidney stones is a real kick in the pants reminder to drink more water. Drinking sweetened beverages over water more of the time can lead to excess calorie intake from sugar, which can lead to weight gain and obesity in the long-term.

 Encouraging kids to drink water more often can help them to develop a taste for naturally replenishing fluid instead of the flavour of sweetened drinks. The body doesn’t recognize calories from drinks to indicate fullness. People who drink pop, juice, or other sweetened beverages often may be consuming more calories than they need, as it’s generally in addition to their daily meals and snacks. Overtime, this can lead to overweight and obesity. As the Slovakian proverb says, “pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine”. Maintaining adequate water intake can help prevent long-term complications of dehydration.

For the average male, 3 Liters (12 cups) a day is a good rule of thumb for fluid requirements. For women, 2.2 Litres (9 cups) and with children 1 Litre to 1.8 Litres, depending on age, size, activity level and climate. Through the hot summer months, drinking water every hour by carrying around a water bottle is a practical strategy to help remember to drink more water. Replacing extra cups of coffee or pop with water or herbal tea can offer another solution to help increase water intake. Each time you go into the bathroom or kitchen, reaching for a glass of water can be a useful way to drink more, in addition, when taking medications or supplements, take a full cup of water instead of just a sip. Naturally high in water content, fruits and vegetables can offer fluid-rich content in a healthy form through food.

20% of our water requirements can be derived from food intake. Vegetables, fruits, soups, jello, dairy and plant-based milk alternatives all offer the body some additional opportunities for more fluid intake. Alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body and can accelerate the risk of dehydration. Many times, the morning hangover effect can be linked to inadequate fluid intake to offset the dehydrating effects of excessive alcohol, including spirits, wine and beer. When drinking alcohol, aim to drink a full glass of water with each alcoholic beverage to help maintain hydration. As Leonardo di Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature”. Humans need this essential, undervalued element

and drinking enough of it daily can help support optimal health and prevent disease. Plan to bring water to drink, since prevention is key.

Change Your Environment to Help Change Your Health

Change Your Environment to Help Change Your Health

Do you rely on willpower and dieting when you are trying to lose weight and improve health?

As the North American population expands in their waistlines and the number of diets continues to grow, something is out of balance and isn’t working for the majority.

Life is busy and humans are creatures of habit. With over 200 decisions being made about food for most of us daily, many times poor choices are made due to convenience and habit. Research indicates that most people who have ‘dieted’ with the goal of losing weight tend to gain weight over the long run. Restrictive diets generally make an individual’s relationship to food more dysfunctional and unhealthy in the long-term.

If we change our environment, instead of relying on willpower and dieting to adjust our eating habits, healthier decisions will become easier to make.

There are some daily common automatic routines that many people do. Over time many of these habits can be detrimental for health. Habits such as, keeping tempting, junk-type foods in sight, since this almost guarantees that it get eaten. Also, going shopping on an empty stomach and buying packaged, convenient snack foods will ensure that these highly processed, salty fatty foods will be consumed. Eating from a package, while doing something else will also help to ensure that more will be eaten than portioning the food out in a dish or bowl. Engaging in another activity while eating naturally leads to overeating. Another way to eat more at mealtimes, is to serve food on big plates. There’s evidence to prove that using larger dishes, bowls and utensils will help to support an individual to eat more and will continue to ‘supersize’ the body. Finishing food that is on the plate is an ingrained behaviour for many North Americans. Many people were taught at a young age to ‘finish everything’ on their plate. When parents and caregivers say this to kids at mealtimes on a regular basis, it will send a message to kids that they can’t trust their own bodies to determine if they are satisfied and full at a meal. Kids know how to listen to their own internal cues much better than adults, and many grown-ups can learn a lot from their kids. For healthy habits to start when kids are young, adults can help to offer healthy food choices and children will determine if they eat it and how much. Rewards of sweet desserts to tempt kids to eat their vegetables at meals does not help. This can send a mixed message that ‘veggies’ must not be good, if a reward is needed to eat them.

Since there are no ‘quick fixes’ for good health, small steps in behaviour change can lead to positive health improvements over time.

Planning ahead, making a list, and buying more vegetables, fruits and whole grains can be a good start to making it easier to eat better. Clearing counters and surfaces of all foods but the healthy ones will help change the eating environment for health. Consciously, becoming more mindful and slowing down while eating, and focusing on how the food tastes, smells, feels and looks can help a person determine if

they are truly enjoying it. Being in tune with eating helps an individual become more mindful and connects the mind and body to hunger signals. Also, using smaller dishes, plates, bowls and utensils for meals and snacks will help to reduce how much food is eaten.

Changing the environment to help change health will also work for the landscape and living area around us. As green spaces, parks, bike paths, beaches and attractive surroundings are available to people to get outside for activity, the opportunities are presented that make it easier to get bodies moving and healthy. Many cities and towns have amenities to help people stay active, including indoor facilities, such as the hockey rinks, gyms, athletic halls, Parks+Rec spaces and the wide open outdoor environment. If exercise is fun and easy, it’s more likely that peoples’ fitness will improve with more activity. In the long-term, regular activity will support people to stay healthier in a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritually positive way. Change the environment to help change health.

Eating Together

Eating Together

Do you eat alone many times a week, or know someone who does? People who share meals together generally eat more nutritious foods regularly and have better nutritional status overall. There are many seniors living at home, who may eat meals alone much of the time.

Finding motivation to prepare and cook meals for oneself can be a challenge. Sometimes, it’s easier to cobble together tea and toast, than to make a well-balanced meal. Seniors who live alone are at an increased risk of malnutrition due to many factors. With aging comes physical changes in body composition. Without regular weight bearing activity, individuals can lose lean muscle tissue quickly. ‘Middle age spread’ (more girth around the middle of the body) can lead to self limited diets and unnecessary food restrictions. This can actually increase risk of nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

Many seniors require less calories due to decreased metabolism and need to be more aware of nutrientdense foods, so they can get enough vitamins, minerals, fibre and macronutrients, such as protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Adequate fluid is very important for healthy bodily functions too. Reducing amount of caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic drinks can have a positive effect on how well the body digests and processes food. Water, milk and liquid meal replacement drinks can be some of the best fluids, depending on your nutritional status and plan. As people age, there is wear and tear on the body which can be a result of lifestyle and daily chronic behaviours of living. For example, food choices, exercise, work environment and frequency of alcohol intake, smoking and other drug consumption all contribute to how well the body and mind ages. Healthy living including good food choices, daily activity, plus fulfilling work, social supports and fun hobbies can affect quality of life and physical well being for the long-term.

There are some easy ways to start improving food intake to affect nutritional status for the better.

Eating breakfast within an hour of waking up will help you on your way to get all of the nutrients your body needs each day. Research indicates that, in general, people who do not eat breakfast regularly have more problems with being overweight. Starting the day with some food helps to ‘break the fast’ and improves overall body metabolism. To run properly, the body needs fuel. There are no rules for a perfect breakfast. Including some fruit, wholegrain and low fat dairy or a lean protein would offer some good nutrition in the am to start the day. High fibre cereal, milk and fruit, or leftovers from dinner the night before, or a fruit/yogurt smoothie with ground flaxseeds can all be examples of good breakfast meal options.

If eating alone for your dinner meal is a regular habit, and appetite isn’t great, there are a few ways to improve the experience. Some ways to help make meal times more enjoyable are finding a comfortable place to sit with your meal, walking before you have your dinner (to stimulate the appetite), adding herbs and spices (instead of salt) to flavor the food, trying a new recipe once a while, and seeking out a community meal club, group, friends or family that gather for regular mealtimes.

Also, if dry mouth, appetite or taste changes have recently gotten worse, ask your physician if these problems may be due to medications and if there are simple ways to help.



Eat your veggies: improving the amount of daily vegetables can help your nutritional intake, by offering fibre, vitamins, minerals and healthful antioxidants. Simple ways to add vegetables and fruits to foods, including, adding berries or a banana to cereal, including a green salad at lunch, eating an apple for a snack, having two vegetables at dinner, adding vegetables to pizza, omelettes, sauces and soups, plus having ready to eat (washed/cut up) veggies in the fridge for eating and adding to meals.


Bone up on calcium by adding cheese to food, using beans/legumes and lentils more often, adding sesame seeds to salads and sandwiches, plus sprinkling skim milk powder in cream soups, hot cereals can easily boost protein and calcium content, without costing too much.


Improving the meal environment and increasing some nutritional options at meal times can really help improve your overall health and well being.

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have to Cost Your Retirement Savings

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have to Cost Your Retirement Savings

With Skyrocketing food costs rising faster than inflation, one sentiment commonly heard is “it’s too expensive to eat healthy!”

Buying fresh produce, meat and dairy seem out of reach with the current climate.

Where does our money go? By keeping track of spending for a month we can get an accurate picture of incidental food and beverage purchases that could be eating away at the grocery budget.

Cooking and dining at home can be an investment in your health and contribute savings for the overall meal budget.

Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store allows for the purchase of more whole foods that offer nutrient-dense ‘bang for your buck’.

In the produce aisle, buy in-season vegetables and fruits that haven’t been transported long distances.

Leafy greens are an integral part of the weekly menu for good health. Fresh or frozen, a variety of these antioxidant-rich addition to meals can offer important health benefits for all of your body systems, including cancer prevention.

Frozen berries can also be a key item for your grocery cart. With polyphenols and fibre, blue or blackberries, strawberries and dark cherries all offer a boost of good health.

By purchasing some of your vegetables and fruits in a frozen state, food waste can be reduced, which will help the grocery budget over time.

Frozen produce is picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen to offer an excellent way to add just the right amount to soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes at meal time.

For protein-rich foods, look to more plant-based options rather than meat more often. Dried beans, lentils, legumes and pulses offer a myriad of disease-fighting health benefits including longevity. Globally, the populations who have good health and quality of life, have one common dietary staple to recognize. The all-mighty bean! Rich in protein, vitamin, minerals and fibre to help with gut health, kidney beans, lentils, chick peas and edamame are powerful meal time boosters. Dried or canned, many of the world’s delicious cuisines start with bean and lentil dishes.

Seeds, a commonly overlooked plant-based protein food are another rich source of essential vitamins and minerals that are more economical than nuts. These are good to include daily. Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia and hemp hearts are all powerhouse snacks and seasonings for cereals, salads and grain bowls. Sprinkled on top for a garnish instead of full portion servings will help stretch the nutritional goodness for longer periods.

For essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health and fit into the anti-inflammatory diets, canned fish pack a powerful punch. Tinned varieties can be a grocery staple each week. Sardines, salmon, maceral and herring are small fish canned with bones that can offer an excellent source of absorbable calcium, vitamin D, protein alternative to red meat, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Roasting a chicken and using the meat for a couple of days, in a variety of ways can help with budget and health. Every part of the chicken can be utilized. The poultry dinner, leftovers for soups, wraps and casseroles with a last step of making bone broth soup will support thriftiness. These practises will help reduce food waste and strengthen the grocery budget.

Eggs are also an inexpensive meal that offers protein for any meal or snack in the day.

Visiting local farmer’s markets will help support your community and help promote local economy by putting your money where your mouth is.

Planning out meals in advance, and stocking key staples in the pantry, fridge and freezer can help keep food costs in tact. In addition, getting creative in the kitchen and eating at home more often will help stretch the food dollar. Monitoring daily spending and cutting back on ‘the latte factor’ will help to highlight methods to maximize the grocery budget.