One of the first things that most people do when they find out that they have a fatty liver / NAFLD is to switch to eating entirely or mostly organic because, well, organic is healthy and we need healthy food to reverse the fatty liver!
This is also one of the first things that your doctor tells you when you are diagnosed: you should eat healthy food only. And most of the people I met instantly understand that switching to an organic-only diet is the best possible approach.
However, even though this is generally true, there are some important nuances that have to be considered before making the decision to switch to eating organic food and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article and answer the burning question: should you switch to organic food if you have a fatty liver?
Not everything organic is healthy
The first and most important thing that you should know is that if a food is labeled as “organic” it doesn’t mean that it is automatically healthy (or healthier than a non-organic food).
Many organic foods that can be bought in stores actually have a ton of added sugars and extra fat, as well as ingredients that are not necessarily healthy. Because, even though organic, sugar is sugar and it’s a big NO.
High fat foods and especially foods with a lot of added sugar, fructose syrup or other sweeteners are a big NO when it comes to a perfect fatty liver diet, meaning that even though the ingredients are organic, they still have the potential to do harm because of the high carbs and fat contents.
As an example, if you fry organic potatoes and have them with a huge portion of organic steak that is also high in fat and you round up your meal with an organic triple-chocolate cake… that’s not something that could be considered healthy for your liver simply because there’s too much fat and sugar.
This means that organic food is not automatically – and in all cases – the better option and you still have to be smart about it and select foods that are not putting extra pressure on your liver.
Organic food is not cheap
The second thing that you have to consider is the price. Organic food is a lot more expensive than the regular food and for many people this can be an issue.
It’s not a shame to admit that you simply can’t afford to eat organic – that’s the case of many people in the world – nor you should bust your savings just to eat the “healthy” food.
It is true, the lack of pesticides, fertilizers and other baddies used in traditional agriculture is better for your liver, but I personally believe that you can get similar results with some smart shopping and home cooking.
Because otherwise all those benefits don’t matter much: sure, you’re not bringing the extra pressure of all those chemicals that traditional foods have (more or less of), but if you are not smart about it and you don’t cook at home, making sure that your foods are liver-friendly, it won’t matter much anyway.
But if you simply can’t afford to eat organic foods only (or mostly), you don’t need to add extra stress to your life. Just play it smart and you will be fine!
Of course, if you can afford eating organic foods most of the time, then you should definitely do it!
Shop smart – that’s the key!
Depending on the area you live in, you might find local farmers who grow their products basically organically (but without the certification).
Those products are usually cheaper than store bought goods and a lot cheaper than organic food, and just as healthy.
So if you can find a steady supply of fruits, vegetables and meat/poultry, then you’re all settled.
Sure, this is a bit more difficult to do because you don’t really know if the farmers are indeed growing their crops naturally – but those who specifically claim to do so are not telling lies.
They are not easy to find though, but even so you can still shop smart and cook your own food in order to minimize the problems caused by traditionally (or should I say modern?) grown crops and animals by eating the foods that are not plagued by tons of pesticides, additives and chemicals.
Based on studying actual USDA data regarding pesticides in foods, the Environmental Working Group organization releases each year two very important lists that you should check out:
– the “dirty dozen”: a list of 12 fruits and vegetables available in stores that have the most pesticides and chemicals (including Spinach, Strawberries, Kale, Apples, Tomatoes and more)
– the “clean fifteen”: a list of 15 fruits and vegetables that have the lowest amount of pesticides and chemicals (including avocados, asparagus, cabbage, mushrooms and more)
In other words, when not buying organic foods (which shouldn’t have these pesticides ), simply focus on getting mostly from the “clean fifteen” and avoid the ones on the dirty dozen list.
Even if you get foods from the dirty dozen list, you can still make them safe(r) to eat by: either removing the peel or washing them carefully with hot water and even a special veggie & fruit detergent.
This way you will get rid of many of the pesticides, since the most of them remain on the peel and don’t get inside the actual fruit or vegetable. Not ideal, definitely (and you can’t really peel strawberries), but better than nothing in most cases.
So, should you switch to eating organic if you have a fatty liver? If financially you can handle it AND you pay attention to the ingredient list (same rules apply here: go for unprocessed foods that have no or little sugar and/or fat), then organic food is certainly the safer option since you eliminate a ton of chemicals that your body has to deal with otherwise.
However, you can still reduce the amount of chemicals and crap that regular food has by doing all of the following: cooking your food at home (this allows you to know exactly what ingredients you use and that they’re properly sanitized), making sure that you carefully wash the fruits and vegetables and/or remove the peel to get rid of the extra chemicals and avoid processed foods at all costs.
If you manage to find somebody who locally grows produce with little use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, then it’s even better.
In the end, you should know that if you manage to change your diet and way of living, you will automatically consume less chemicals and bad things for your body and liver than the regular person even if you don’t eat organic food exclusively. You just have to be a bit more careful.
What is my approach to organic / non-organic food eating?
As you probably know if you read this blog, I managed to reverse my fatty liver in 1.5 years after being diagnosed. I followed this modified Mediterranean diet and did my best to eat as healthy as possible.
What I did (and still do after all these years) was to mix organic and non-organic food. I buy as much organic food as I can afford, but I buy it smart: discounts and large quantities when available, focusing on replacing fruits and veggies from the dirty dozen with their organic counterparts, always reading the labels to know what I’m buying and making sure to cook most of my meals at home.
Some organic foods are cheaper than others and not much more expensive than non-organic ones. In my area, milk and dairy products are cheaper, organic eggs as well. Tomatoes, bananas are also generally affordable and so are many legumes and beans.
All you have to do is keep an eye on the prices if the budget is smart and shop based on what’s on offer and what is healthy. Stick to this and you will be able to reverse your fatty liver!
I was diagnosed with a fatty liver back in 2014 and managed to reverse it by mid 2015. Since then, I’ve been studying NAFLD and I have decided to share everything I have learned over the years to help you reverse your condition.
I am also the admin of the Fatty Liver Support Group on Facebook and the Fatty Liver Subreddit.