two photos, one of pat spratt before she adopted a healthy vegan diet for her liver and one after

On a Healthy Vegan Diet, I’ve Healed My Liver, Reversed Type 2 Diabetes, and Lost 35 Pounds

By Patricia S. Spratt,

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Prior to going plant-based, my diet consisted mostly of fatty, fried fast food I could quickly grab on my lunch breaks. Dinner was anything I could cook up quickly, always with some form of animal protein as the main course.

On December 24, 2021, I had an appointment with a hepatologist, arranged by my primary care physician after blood work revealed that my liver enzymes were in the cosmic range. The hepatologist ordered more tests, the results of which showed that I had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), likely the result of a nasty gene in my family: alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Imaging showed a median liver stiffness score of 13.2, which indicated “severe fibrosis/cirrhosis.”

I was also obese, weighing 184 pounds; had Type 2 diabetes, with an A1C (a measure of average blood sugar) of 7; and had high cholesterol. The doctor told me that if I did not change my diet and sedentary lifestyle, I would be a candidate for a liver transplant within three to six years. Well, that was a lovely Christmas present!

Discovering a Vegan Diet

When I told one of my stepdaughters the news, she told me to watch the Forks Over Knives documentary. So I did—three times. After that, I immediately became a vegan. My focus was on repairing and keeping my liver healthy. I was pleasantly surprised when, a few weeks into my new diet, I found myself losing weight.

As for my liver, I went for another checkup in April 2022, and imaging showed a much improved liver stiffness score, of 4.3. Imaging in March 2023 showed a liver stiffness score of 3.7. And my most recent imaging, in January 2024, showed liver stiffness of 2.7, which indicates “no significant fibrosis,” or “normal/inflammation.”

No Longer Living in Fear

It’s been more than two years since I adopted a healthy vegan diet. Along the way, I have lost 35 pounds (I need to buy a new wardrobe!) and reversed my diabetes, with my most recent blood work showing an A1C of 5.6 (normal). I’ve lowered my cholesterol to the normal range, as well. And I did it all with a plant-based diet—which, by the way, is delicious!

Because I have never met a vegetable or spice that I don’t like, I have really enjoyed making stews and soups with spices from North Africa, India, Asia, and Central America. There are some really great vegan cookbooks out there (including those from Forks Over Knives).

To minimize my exposure to toxic chemicals, I also stopped coloring my hair, as you can see from the photos. I actually like the silver look better than the dark brown!

I am so very grateful to my stepdaughter for telling me to watch Forks Over Knives. I no longer live in fear of liver failure, transplant surgery, or having to take immunosuppressant drugs for the remainder of my life. I tell everyone who asks how I did it to watch Forks Over Knives. For me, food is medicine—so, as a dear friend says, I am self-medicating!

Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

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