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NASH-ing Through the Holidays

The holidays symbolize a time of eating, drinking, and being merry. As a result, diets worldwide are put on pause to enjoy the season’s favorites. For those with NASH, regularly overindulging is a likely contributor to developing this condition. It’s a slippery slope that you can easily be caught in, and if not careful and can jeopardize your liver’s health. If you have NASH, you can get through the holidays without hurting your liver by showing a little self-control.

Why Even Temporary Overindulgence is Bad for NASH

Your liver processes everything you eat and drink. The liver filters through these contents and some of the functions include storing fat until our bodies can use it later. In a normal liver, this means there is always some level of fat. However, consuming unhealthy foods regularly leaves more fat in the liver than can be used.

Having NASH means your liver is already overwhelmed by the amount of fat being stored there. Your immune system recognizes this as a problem, and it sends help there to try and solve it, causing inflammation. If fat levels do not decrease, you essentially have constant inflammation that begins to kill liver cells and cause fibrosis or scarring.  

NASH can lead to cirrhosis if not treated, NASH research

NASH is managed by losing weight, exercising, eating a diet low in fat, and eliminating foods high in sugar. When managed, the liver has the highest chance of healing itself in this stage. The liver also controls blood sugar, makes certain hormones, and regulates cholesterol and hundreds of other functions. Even a few days of binge drinking or overeating can result in your liver having less bandwidth to do everything else it needs to.

NASH-Friendly Holiday Tips

Without intervention, NASH can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Thankfully, with a few liver-friendly tips, you can stay on track and avoid further damage.

  • Limit Alcohol: Heavy alcohol use means four or more drinks per day for men and three for women. Because of this, you will want to stay well under those numbers. Tonics with a twist of lime or lemon or club soda on the rocks with an olive are alternatives.
  • Limit Foods High in Simple Sugars: Pecan pie can typically have up to 900 calories per serving. Share a slice with a loved one or try an alternative.
  • Limit Foods High in Saturated and Trans Fats: Turkey breast is a better option than the leg. Apple cider gravy is an excellent alternative to a meat-based gravy high in fat.

The Bright Future of NASH Treatments

Outside of lifestyle changes, there are no FDA approved treatments specific for NASH currently. Fortunately, new options are currently being studied through clinical research studies that show promising results. Over the next few years, many of these options may be available for treatment.

NASH can be hard to recognize, NASH research, older woman looking down

To learn more about the upcoming studies here at Clinical Pharmacology of Miami for NASH and other liver diseases, visit our website or call (305) 817-2900.

References:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/10-holiday-food-swaps-healthy-liver/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash/definition-facts

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a25357425/food-alcohol-effects-liver-damage/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash/eating-diet-nutrition

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