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El Tecolote reporter survives health crisis, learns value of nutrition
El Tecolote reporter Alejandro Galicia Díaz stays active to combat fatty liver disease. Courtesy: Alejandro Galicia Díaz
El Tecolote reporter Alejandro Galicia Díaz stays active to combat fatty liver disease. Courtesy: Alejandro Galicia Díaz

It was a Thursday afternoon, a day before my mother’s birthday to be exact when I was scheduled to meet my doctor. Cracking my knuckles and wiping the sweat from the palm of my hands and forehead in the waiting room, all I could angrily ask myself was why hadn’t I taken better care of myself.

As I sat in the patient waiting room for 45 minutes looking at the human anatomical poster and eavesdropping on a conversations between the doctors about my diagnosis, my doctor finally came in and told me that I had developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Naturally, one thinks the worst, and rightfully so, considering it can lead to serious health problems if not treated at all. But there are various ways to combat fatty liver.

“Fatty liver is very common and is generally developed due to a poor diet and, or drinking too much alcohol,” said Julio Herrera Aguirre, anesthetist at the General Hospital of Mexico City.  “The best thing to do is to is watch what you eat and drink or a transplant if there are complications.”

Eating healthy, staying away from processed foods and exercising are the best ways to combat fatty liver disease or the best way of prevention if you still have a healthy liver. Unfortunately, many people in this country don’t think of the consequences of a poor diet and the effects that it will have on the organs in the long run.

A recent study done by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization showed the United States as the second most obese country in the Americas, behind Mexico.

And according to the American Liver Foundation, at least 30 million Americans, or nearly one in 10, have liver disease. Often, many people aren’t aware that they have anything wrong with their liver.

What many people fail to realize, as I once did, is how rough eating junk food is on the body, mainly the liver. The liver has various functions and one of them is filtering and neutralizing any toxins found in our bloodstreams. However, the more greasy and processed foods one eats the more fat is built up in the liver, causing liver disease.

Combating fatty liver disease or prevention takes discipline. The liver is the only organ in our bodies that has the ability to regenerate itself. But in order to have a healthy liver, it all comes down to what we eat and what we need to stay away from.

Combating this disease is also about researching what one can eat.

According to Healthhub, which is part of the website Sunwarrior: Garlic, onions, artichoke, avocados, beets, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, turmeric, walnuts, citrus fruits, whole grains and water, are some of the best things to cleanse the liver.  A personal favorite of mine are blueberries and raspberries, which contain a large amount of antioxidants to cleanse out the liver.

“What you need you understand is that it’s a lifestyle change,” said Monica Sparks, health and fitness coach and certified personal trainer in the Bay Area. “It’s not an overnight fix, it’s not a quick fix kind of thing.  It takes a lot of practice and with practice it’s starting with fundamentals.”

After my diagnosis, I began to take my health seriously. Nowadays, I find myself in my personal boxing gym at home, sweating away or on a basketball court shooting around and staying physically active.

I have stopped eating junk food and drinking soft drinks. It hasn’t been easy but as I have taken baby steps, I have seen improvement.

Story by: Alejandro Galicia-Diaz