Your Gut Flora May Determine Whether or Not You Develop NAFLD

Researchers know that diet can play an important role in whether or not you develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Generally, diets high in saturated fats and fructose promote the disease, while diets high in unsaturated fats, proteins rich in isoflavones like soy and choline help prevent the disease. Choline is especially important in preventing the disease. Some people simply have a diet that is low in choline, while others may have genetics that prevents them from producing or absorbing enough choline. Now researchers are finding that the type of bacteria in your gut may also play a vital role in promoting or preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Researchers are quickly realizing that the type of bacteria in our intestines, called gut flora, can determine whether we can maintain good health or develop certain diseases. In addition to developing NAFLD, having the wrong type of gut flora can

  • Increase our risk of developing colon cancer
  • Interfere with the absorption of nutrients
  •  Increase our risk of developing inflammatory and irritable bowel disease
  • And may even cause personality changes like paranoia and aggressive behavior.

Studies conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have indicated that some kinds of bacteria help prevent NAFLD, and others promote the development of NAFLD.

After putting study participants on a choline deficient diet, they found that patients with an abundance of Gammaproteobacteria had the lowest amount of fat accumulation in their liver, while those with an abundance of Erysipeoltrichi had the greatest amount of fat accumulation in their liver. Patients with the least amount of fatty liver accumulation had a healthy population of Gammaproteobacteria, a low population of Erysipeoltrichi, and genetics that promoted good absorption and internal production of choline. The opposite was true for patients with the greatest amount of fat accumulation in their liver.

Unfortunately, science has yet to figure out how to control the populations of various bacteria in our guts. In general, the best way to help our body to maintain healthy gut flora is to

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates
  • Eat less animal proteins
  • Eat more soy proteins
  • Eat less sugar and fructose
  • And eat more pre-biotic and pro-biotic rich foods like yogurt, dairy products and kefir.

One carbohydrate that acts like a pre-biotic and promotes a healthy gut flora is inulin. Foods that are high in inulin are chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, garlic and bananas.

So, we now are beginning to understand that gut flora is extremely important in maintaining both good physical and mental health. Types of bacteria in our guts can even determine whether or not we develop NAFLD or not. Even though we still do not know how to control what types of bacteria we have in our intestines, we can help develop healthy gut flora with a healthy diet. In general, stay away from animal saturated fats and fructose, and eat more high fiber fruits and vegetables with soy. Adding onions and bananas to our diet while drinking some chicory root tea can also help us keep our gut flora healthy. With good bacteria in our guts, we can minimize our risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Research: Phenotyping the effect of diet on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
ScienceDaily: Specific Populations of Gut Bacteria Linked to Fatty Liver
Health And Fitness Articles Blog: Gut Flora May Affect Your Mood
LivesStrong: Foods That Contain Inulin