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Healthy You

Fatty Liver Disease Can Be Reversed & Cured - Here's How

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:01 PM

Edna Molina would be the first to admit she has a sweet tooth—especially for cookies and cakes. Generally healthy, the 61-year-old Libertyville resident knew she needed to dial back on some of the goodies and lose weight. But Molina was caught by surprise when a blood test during a routine physical flagged elevated liver enzymes. Her internist wasted no time referring her to NorthShore liver specialist and Hepatology Section Chief Claus Fimmel, MD

Edna Molina

Hidden Health Danger
“After further testing, we found that Edna had high blood sugar levels indicating she was prediabetic,” explained Dr. Fimmel. “She also had developed a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is closely linked to obesity. It can lead to much more serious conditions including cirrhosis and liver failure.”  

The good news is that fatty liver disease can be reversed—and even cured—if patients take action, including a 10% sustained loss in body weight.

“Dr. Fimmel’s diagnosis scared me,” admitted Molina. So, together with her husband Jaime Contreras—who also needed to shed some pounds—the couple began a “new normal” with a healthier diet. To help guide their journey, Dr. Fimmel teamed up with Preventive Cardiologist David Davidson, MD, who leads NorthShore’s Weight Management Program. Both physicians hold academic appointments at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Eating for Results
“Our program is designed for a wide range of patients and provides structure and accountability to lose weight while preserving the social aspect of eating,” noted Dr. Davidson. “It’s been tremendously successful. Since we began in 2015, our patients have collectively lost more than 10,000 pounds—that’s 5 tons!”

The program includes a well-designed diet with appropriate amounts of protein, calories and micronutrients to preserve muscle mass. “Preserving muscle is key to successfully losing weight,” Dr. Davidson added. “We also offer weekly support to keep patients motivated and on track.”

Working with a health coach, Molina and her husband began to enjoy the shakes, soups, snacks and other food options that make the diet so approachable. Within six months, she lost 40 pounds and her husband lost more than 50 pounds. “Edna is a shining success story of this program,” said Dr. Fimmel. “Best of all, her liver enzymes returned to normal and she no longer has fatty liver disease.”

“Our progress actually created a new problem for us,” joked Molina, “none of our clothes fit anymore! We both have so much more energy and feel 30 years younger. The doctors at NorthShore truly changed my life, and I know others can benefit from this program, too.”