DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. So, what does that have to do with fatty liver?
There is something called Metabolic Syndrome where, to simply put it, patients with hypertension may also have issues with sugar metabolism, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol), and/or high LDL (bad cholesterol). So, it makes sense to see if someone who is on the DASH diet for hypertension might also help these parameters. Many of these patients with metabolic syndrome may also be overweight and possibly have fatty liver as well, so could the DASH diet help with all of this?
As my patients know, I am a big fan of using food/diet to help diseases. When I saw this study about a diet that could help with many of these metabolic parameters, I was immediately drawn to it. I can’t tell you how many people have fatty liver and they don’t even know it.
How can you detect it?
Liver ultrasounds are an easy non-invasive way of doing this. Ask your doctor about it!
And if you have it, this diet apparently helps with not just hypertension, but also weight and fatty liver as well.
In a randomized controlled clinical trial, 60 overweight and obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were randomly allocated to either the control diet or the DASH diet for 8 weeks. Both diets restricted calories and both diets consisted of 52-55% carbohydrates, 16-18% proteins, and 30% total fats. However, the DASH diet was high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and were low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and refined grains.
After 8 weeks, the DASH diet group had significant improvements in liver function test results, weight, body mass index, insulin resistance issues, insulin sensitivity, triglyceride levels, total/HDL cholesterol ratio and hs-CRP. Some of the markers that show liver stress were also improved in the DASH diet group.
If you are someone who is worried about doing a lifelong diet, I recommend trying this diet for 8 weeks. If possible, a lifestyle change into a diet that is mostly vegetable-based and whole-food based that is not processed or sugary or full of saturated fat is ideal. However, if you find that you need a shorter time limit plan where you don’t feel as overwhelmed, just try this for 8 weeks and once you start feeling better, you might just want to keep going.
As with any major changes, I highly recommend checking with your doctor before implementing diet or supplement changes to make sure it’s safe for you. The best part about the DASH diet is that most, if not all doctors, know about it. So, the conversation about whether you should try it or not should be a relatively easy conversation to have with your primary doctor.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead…just know that I’ll be rooting for you.
If there is one thing that helps the most for your overall health…it’s a healthy diet!
Zade, MR, et al. The effects of DASH diet on weight loss and metabolic status in adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a randomized clinical trial. April 2016. 36(4): 563-571.