Fatty Liver and Your Thyroid

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Let’s talk about a fatty liver and your thyroid. If you have a fatty liver, chances are that’s going to slow down your thyroid. This is a big problem. Luckily, it’s also something that you can get ahead of if you know what to do.

Specifically, you can address liver disease and poor thyroid function by doing healthy keto with intermittent fasting, along with eating healthy cruciferous vegetables and foods high in choline.

Let’s take it from the top.

What Is Fatty Liver and How Does It Happen?

Now, there are two different categories of fatty liver. One, alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD), is caused by drinking too much alcohol. The other is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). You can develop NAFLD from eating very poorly, and it’s more common than you’d think.

In fact, 25% of the population actually has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And it’s not just overweight people or people with a gut. Skinny people are actually twice as likely to develop NAFLD-related complications and die from liver disease than overweight people. Why? Well, it’s probably because they’re skinny and they think they’re healthy and they can eat whatever they want - so they ultimately neglect their health and cause long-term problems.

Symptoms of NAFLD

When someone develops NAFLD, there are virtually no symptoms. You start to develop a gut, but it’s very rare to have symptoms until it starts becoming more advanced. Then, eventually, the person starts getting:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Right shoulder pain
  • Pain in the upper right track
  • Maybe headaches on the right side
  • Pain in the right rhomboid

NAFLD and other liver diseases

After years of inflammation, you eventually develop bigger issues like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the same issue you get from being an alcoholic. In fact, the damage from high Fat Storing Hormone - and from a lot of sugar - is almost identical to the damage from alcohol. When you develop cirrhosis, you lose liver function. You also lose the ability to detoxify - which means you have a buildup of toxic waste.

That’s especially true if you’re consuming the sugar from high fructose corn syrup because fructose will really damage the liver faster than other sugars.

Primary Causes of NAFLD

In fact, fructose is 20x more likely to cause NAFLD than any other sugars. That said, NAFLD also happens due to high levels of Fat Storing Hormone from a lot of refined carbohydrates and frequent eating.

Now, the average American consumes 44.7 gallons of liquid sugar every single year, so it’s not surprising that such a huge chunk of the population has NAFLD. That's also why NAFLD correlates with diabetic problems and other weight-related risk factors.

So how do you know if you have NAFLD?

The biggest telltale sign is excess fat located around the belly. If you have this kind of gut, it’s very likely that you have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease because the fat is spilling over from the liver around the abdomen. This is called visceral fat.

NAFLD Leads to High Cholesterol and Thyroid Problems

As I said, if you have liver disease, your liver function is going to go down and your cholesterol is going to start building up. This largely happens because of decreased bile production. When you have liver damage and not enough bile, you can’t effectively remove cholesterol. That’s one big health consequence to consider.

Then there’s the thyroid function. The thyroid is an important gland located in the neck area of the body. Generally speaking, this gland produces thyroid hormones that regulate various bodily functions, including:

  • Metabolic rate
  • Heart and digestive function
  • Muscle control
  • Brain development
  • Mood and bone maintenance

Specifically, the thyroid produces a hormone called T4 and then the liver helps you convert T4 to T3. T3 is the active form of the thyroid hormone that helps regulate body temperature, metabolism, and heart rate.

If the liver is damaged, you’re not going to convert enough T4 into T3, and you’re going to have a condition known as hypothyroidism (at the very least you'll have subclinical hypothyroidism, which is low-normal thyroid function). Hypothyroidism is characterized by slow thyroid function. This poor thyroid function will lead to lots of troublesome symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Slow metabolism
  • Buildup of cholesterol
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation

So, in short, really high Fat Storing Hormone will affect your thyroid function because of the liver.

So what do you do?

keto diet intermittent fasting helps fatty liver

First thing's first: you have to know for sure what you're dealing with. There are simple blood tests that you can do to test for hypothyroidism. These tests check your T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to confirm if you're dealing with a thyroid problem. Similarly, blood tests can help you figure out your hepatic function and your blood lipid levels.

From there, like with anything else, there's a healthy and an unhealthy way to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and related thyroid function issues.

The non-healthy options? Thyroid hormone replacement therapies like thyroxine hormone therapy (levothyroxine). These supplementations aren't sustainable solutions and they don't address the root of the problem in an effective way.

Instead, you should get on a healthy keto diet with intermittent fasting to handle the high Fat Storing Hormone. You can also increase your cruciferous vegetables - and vegetables in general - to help heal the NAFLD.

Now, you may be thinking really, keto? Don't I have to consume less fat to decrease fat in my liver? No, you don't. See, you actually need foods rich in methionine and choline to cleanse a fatty liver. That means consuming a diet that's actually high in protein and fat.

Over time, you can reverse your liver disease using this method - if it’s not too far gone.

The next thing I would recommend is choline in supplement form. You can get it as a powder. Choline is a B vitamin that will help remove the fat off the liver pretty fast. You can do it within months. So I would add choline to your diet, along with really healthy cruciferous vegetables and doing a version of keto I call healthy ketosis. And, of course, intermittent fasting. That’s how you’re going to handle the fatty liver and improve your thyroid.

Questions? Let us know below!

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