190 pounds with a fatty liver and high cholesterol

All Woman

DEAR DONOVAN,

I'm desperately in need of your help. I was advised that I have a fatty liver and high cholesterol. I have acid reflux as well. I wasn't given any medication for the cholesterol; I was advised to go on a diet and exercise. I'm kindly asking for a meal plan that I can work with. I work in the call centre business so I find it hard to know what to eat. What can I do? What can I eat? What's my first step? I weigh 190 pounds.

Based on your height and weight, you are definitely overweight and may even be in the obese range. Being overweight is associated with all three major health concerns that you are presently facing. These are potentially serious health challenges and I am happy that you are reaching out for further help.

Basically, fatty liver means that you have fat deposited inside your liver. This deposit of fat may interfere with the liver's ability to detox the body as well as other liver functions. Fatty liver diseases may be divided into two main types — in one case the liver has fat deposits but there is no damage to the liver, and in the other case, the liver has fat deposits and may also be showing signs of inflammation and damage to the liver cells. This situation leads to permanent scaring and hardening of the liver. This is known as cirrhosis. The exact cause of fatty liver is unknown; however, it is suspected that obesity is the most common cause.

In addition, you also have acid reflux. This condition is usually associated with a burning pain referred to as heartburn in the lower chest area. Acid reflux happens when the acidic content of the stomach flows back into the food tube often after eating. Again, this is often associated with obesity and other lifestyle choices, for example, smoking.

You have also mentioned that your cholesterol is high. If there is too much cholesterol in the body it can combine with other substances and form plaque. This plaque can stick to the walls of the arteries. This build-up is known as artherosclerosis. This can lead to a narrowing of the coronary arteries and even blocking of these arteries. An unhealthy diet and obesity are usually the most common causes of high cholesterol. However, genetics have also been touted as a possible factor as well.

Your doctor has decided not to put you in cholesterol reducing medication for now. However, you are told to make something lifestyle changes. This is very smart advice because many of these cholesterol reducing medications have a negative effect on the liver and your liver is already compromised.

It is important that you take control of your health ASAP. You will have to lose some weight and you will have to reduce your cholesterol levels by cutting back on foods that have high cholesterol content Also, you will now have to eat in a healthy way and you will also have to increase your activity/exercise. One point to note is that cholesterol is not naturally present in plant-based foods. So you will have to have more of these. Also add to your diet:

1.Meal replacement shakes with almond/soy milk.

2. Steamed vegetables with ground provisions.

3. Peas or vegetable soup.

4. Coconut water.

5. Green, carrot, or beetroot juice.

At the same time you will have to reduce your calories so that you can lose weight. I am not suggesting that you go completely off foods from animal sources; however, these will have to be drastically reduced in the diet. In addition, you also need to try and get in at least half hour exercise each day.

Your diet and exercise programme will need to be adjusted over time. In addition, you should also periodically check your cholesterol level to make sure it is going in the right direction.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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