Martin Bengtsson changed his lifestyle for the sake of his liver
When Martin Bengtsson found out he had fatty liver disease, he decided to start eating healthier and exercising more. "A lot of people think you can't do anything about fatty liver - but you can," he says.
Text: Annika Lund; first published in the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap, nr 4 2023 / Spotlight on the liver
“Two years ago, I had complications after a hernia operation. In the end, they did a CT scan of my abdomen. It showed that I had fatty liver disease – and the situation was apparently quite serious”, says Martin Bengtsson.
That was hard for him to take in, because he had recently had a health check through his work and the tests showed good liver values.
“But the doctor explained that fatty liver doesn’t always show up in blood tests. According to him, unless I changed my lifestyle, I was headed for a liver transplant – just in time for retirement”, he says.
He has always been wary of alcohol, so in his case it was a sedentary job, too little exercise and too much soda and cheese puffs that had made him sick, Martin Bengtsson explains.
After a weekend of thinking and planning, he jumped into a major overhaul of habits. On Monday, the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. and he headed out for an hour-long walk, the first of the day. For more than six months, he walked 16,000 to 20,000 steps every single day. He used a diet programme to change my eating habits.
“We still eat many of the same dishes we always did, but now we cook them differently. For example, I’ve cut the cream out of the sausage stroganoff and replaced it with flour and milk for the creaminess. No one in the family has noticed any difference. In short, you could say that I eat more vegetables and have less cream in my food than before, but everything still tastes good and I don’t go hungry”, he says.
In the beginning, he obsessively weighed and measured everything using the diet programme, but now he has a feel for the measurements. Soda is the only thing he has banned from his diet, and snacks are allowed only on the weekends.
Martin Bengtsson has lost 20 kilos and now weigh 85 kilos. Once a day, often in the evening, he takes an hour-long walk, no matter the weather – he always go out.
“I actually don’t know how my liver is doing, because they’re going to do a new CT scan in three years. But my blood lipids and blood pressure have normalised, so I don’t have to take medication. A lot of people think you can’t do anything about fatty liver – but you can”, he says.
Occupation: Senior key account manager at a battery company. Has overhauled
his lifestyle to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common liver disease.