Our societal struggle with maintaining a healthy weight is no secret.
Forty percent of adults in the United States meet the medical definition of obesity (body mass index (BMI) over 30kg/m2), with the rate continuing to climb in almost every state (https://stateofobesity.org/adult-obesity/).
Carrying too much weight has serious consequences for many aspects of our health, including our livers, which can accumulate harmful amounts of fat. Excessive buildup of fat in the livers of people with obesity is referred to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The number of people with NAFLD has been estimated to be over 80 million in the United States and over a billion people worldwide. Fat in the liver can lead to inflammation, referred to as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and scarring (fibrosis).
In its most severe form, NASH can lead to cirrhosis, which is scarring that is advanced enough to cause liver failure and liver cancer. NAFLD and NASH are almost always silent conditions, producing few, if any, symptoms but that doesn’t mean they can’t be deadly. Liver failure due to NASH is now the second most common reason to need a liver transplant in the United States and is on course to become the most common reason. NASH is already the most common reason to develop primary liver cancer.
While most people with NAFLD and NASH do not develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer, the risks of these complications are substantial. It is important to remember that NAFLD and NASH are just two of the many consequences of obesity. Other, better known consequences include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatigue and joint problems, to name just a few. The impact of excess weight on our health is determined not only by the amount of food we consume but also by the type of foods we eat.
Medicines can have critical roles in maintaining and improving health in people struggling with obesity and fatty liver disease. As complex as diseases can be, obesity and fatty liver disease share a simple truth. Nutrition is at the heart of both.
At HepVita we believe that how we eat and live are the most important elements of our health and well-being. We believe that health and wellness start with nutrition. With food as medicine.
The sheer volume of advice and recommendations for nutrition can be overwhelming. At HepVita we bring together some of the world’s most renowned and respected medical experts, thought leaders in liver disease, Integrative Medicine, Culinary Medicine and nutrition together to provide personalized nutrition-based care for people with liver fatty liver disease.
Our team of experts includes doctors who have developed the most widely cited and used guidelines for the management of NAFLD and NASH, (The diagnosis and management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Practice guidance from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Hepatology. 2018 Jan;67(1):328-357), leading physicians in Integrative and Culinary Medicine and nutritionists.
At HepVita we take a two-step approach to health and wellness.
The first step is getting to know our clients. We provide a user friendly, online tool to generate a detailed, personal nutrition and lifestyle profile. Our nutrition assessment tool, VitaScreen, developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, provides a comprehensive view of each client’s nutritional intake.
The second step is generating a nutrition and lifestyle plan that is custom tailored to each client as a guide to wellness. A key difference at HepVita is that we take the journey to nutritional wellness with each client, monitoring their progress and providing new guidance that reflects their current state along the way.
Any important journey requires tools. This is especially true for nutrition. HepVita has teamed up with the leading provider of culinary education, Rouxbe, to provide a complete set of food preparation and cooking education tools to provide all of our clients. From choosing and preparing the simplest food to making the most deliciously elaborate meal, we have beautifully produced, visually rich and highly effective video tutorials by master teachers to take our clients from what to do to how to do it.
Live in a food desert, far from farmers’ markets and delicatessens? Most people do. We provide the tools to access delicious, healthy food wherever you are.
Failed too many diets? Almost everyone regains some or all of the weight we lose during diets. Not only are most diets based on programs that entail a loss of joyful eating, our bodies adapt to diets in ways that makes longterm success highly unlikely. The secret is making healthy nutrition part of our routine lives and a source of joy. Being armed with the right knowledge and tools is essential, too.