You've probably heard about the health benefits of almond milk.
However, what you might not know is that it's great for people with fatty liver disease.
But before you put down that glass of 2% milk, I'll explain what fatty liver disease is, and whether or not almond milk can help.
Is almond milk good for fatty liver disease?
Many experts recommend almond milk for fatty liver disease because it's low-calorie and contains nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
What is Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease, also known as steatosis, is a condition with excessive fat buildup in the liver.
It is a fairly common condition, affecting over 25% of people worldwide.
The disease can be caused by various factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
If left untreated, it can progress to more severe stages, such as inflammation, scarring, and even cirrhosis.
While symptoms may be mild or absent in the early stages, it's important to take care of your liver health and prevent it from advancing.
The early symptoms of fatty liver disease are often subtle or absent, which can make it difficult to detect.
However, some people may experience the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Confusion or difficulty thinking
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
Some common symptoms of advanced stages include:
- Abdominal pain
- Elevated liver function tests
What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease is caused by excessive fat accumulation within the liver cells.
Several different factors can contribute to the development of fatty liver disease.
The most common cause is excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to fatty liver disease and cirrhosis over time.
However, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming increasingly prevalent.
It can be caused by a number of factors, such as obesity, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
NAFLD can also happen due to certain medications, rapid weight loss, malabsorption syndromes, and genetic metabolic disorders.
Genetic predispositions can also increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease, even without other risk factors.
As obesity rates continue to rise globally, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common cause of liver disease
Does Your Diet Impact Your Condition?
Your diet plays a crucial role in the development of fatty liver disease.
A diet high in calories, saturated fats, and sugar can contribute to the development of fatty liver disease, particularly for people who are overweight or obese.
Fortunately, a healthy diet can help prevent and manage the disease.
Eating a diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein (a.k.a. real foods) can help improve liver function.
It can also promote weight loss, which helps decrease fat in the liver.
For non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a low carbohydrate diet can effectively reduce liver fat, improve insulin sensitivity, and help with weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to benefit NAFLD, as it emphasizes whole foods and healthy fats such as olive oil, lean protein, and whole grains.
Maintaining a healthy body weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is critical for preventing and managing fatty liver disease.
Is Almond Milk Good for Fatty Liver?
Drinking almond milk may have potential benefits for people with fatty liver disease.
Almond milk is a low-calorie, low-fat alternative to cow's milk.
Aside from being dairy-free, a lot of people switch to almond milk to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.
This is beneficial because weight loss can help decrease the amount of fat in the liver.
Almond milk is also a good source of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats, which can help improve lipid profiles and decrease the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
It's also a good source of antioxidants and Vitamin E, which may have beneficial effects on the liver.
For example, one cup of a popular organic brand of almond milk, Three Trees Unsweetened Almond Milk, has the following nutrition profile:
- 100 calories
- 9 grams of fat (1 g saturated)
- 0 mg of cholesterol
- 10 mg of sodium
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of sugars (no added sugars)
Three Trees also contains 4 grams of plant-based protein and micronutrients like manganese, vitamin B2, and vitamin E.
Benefits of Almond Milk For Fatty Liver Disease
Almond milk offers several benefits for people with fatty liver disease, including:
- Low calorie and low fat: Almond milk is a low-calorie and low-fat alternative to cow's milk. If you're dealing with NAFLD and trying to cut calories, you might benefit from switching to alond milk.
- Good source of healthy fats: Almond milk is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help improve lipid profiles and decrease the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- High in antioxidants and Vitamin E: The antioxidants in almond milk (e.g. Vitamin E), have anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent liver cell damage.
- Low in carbohydrates: Most almond milk has little-to-no carbs, so it's a great option for people on a low-carb diet (like Keto) who are trying to manage fatty liver disease.
Potential “Cons” of Almond Milk For Fatty Liver Disease
While drinking almond milk can be beneficial for people with fatty liver disease, there are also some potential downsides to consider, including:
- Limited nutrition: Almond milk is lower in certain nutrients compared to cow's milk, such as calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, although these can be found in fortified options.
- Allergic reactions: People with tree nut allergies may be allergic to almond milk, which can cause symptoms such as hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.
The most important thing to remember is that almond milk alone is not enough to manage or cure fatty liver disease.
You need to have a well-balanced diet and lifestyle managed by your doctor.
What To Look For In Almond Milk For FLD?
All almond milk is not equal! When you're dealing with fatty liver disease, you need to pay extra attention to the ingredients in your almond milk.
Even if a brand advertises itself as "healthy", the ingredient list may suggest otherwise.
Here's what to look for in almond milk if you have fatty liver disease:
- Unsweetened: When possible, it's best to choose unsweetened almond milk, as sweetened versions can be high in added sugars, which can contribute to weight gain and worsen fatty liver disease.
- Fortified: Some almond milk brands are fortified with nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. If your doctor recommends it, you may opt for these options if you have difficulty meeting your nutrient needs.
- No inflammatory oils: Some almond milk includes highly processed inflammatory oils to create a smoother and creamier texture. One of the main culprits is canola oil (aka rapeseed oil). To be safe, it's easier to just avoid almond milk with added oils.
- Organic: While it is not specifically related to fatty liver disease, some people prefer organic options as they are non-GMO and free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
- Avoid added ingredients: Some almond milk contains added ingredients such as emulsifiers, which may have negative effects on gut health and should be avoided
Incorporate Almond Milk as a Well-Rounded Approach To Your Health
Drinking almond milk is just one aspect of managing fatty liver disease.
A healthy diet rich in whole foods, regular exercise, and lifestyle changes advised by healthcare professionals is also essential for maintaining a healthy liver.
If you have fatty liver disease, you can help manage your condition by doing the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
The best thing you can do to manage your condition is to check in often with your healthcare provider.
It's essential to have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your liver function and manage any other medical conditions that may be present.