Non alcoholic fatty liver disease can happen to anyone. Most don’t know they have fat in the liver. If you want to know to prevent/treat it based on scientific evidence, you are in the right place. This post will describe non alcoholic fatty liver disease, symptoms, the risk factors, and prevention strategies using simple and science based methods.
- What is non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
- What are the symptoms of non alcoholic fatty liver disease?
- Who is at risk for non alcoholic fatty liver disease?
- How is it diagnosed?
- How is the condition treated?
- Why is the liver prone for fat deposition?
What is non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition (as the name indicates) that occurs in people who drink little to no alcohol and is characterized by fat deposits in the liver cells. Over time, the liver gets overworked, reaches a break point and develops scarring. This may lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
What are the symptoms of non alcoholic fatty liver disease?
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease causes minimal to no symptoms and continues to remain asymptomatic. In some people it may cause non specific symptoms like
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain or sensation of heaviness in the abdomen
In people who develop liver failure, the symptoms gets severe and can present with
- Low blood sugar
- Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
- Pleural effusion (fluid in the chest cavity)
- Enlarged abdomen
- Enlarged veins on the body
- Weight loss
- Dark urine & pale stools
- Difficulty eating
- Potential kidney problems (hepatorenal syndrome)
What happens with long standing fatty liver?
Long standing fatty liver can cause damage to liver cells. This may eventually scar the liver cells, which can in turn may turn into cirrhosis or even cancer.
Who is at risk for non alcoholic liver disease?
The risk factors for non alcoholic fatty liver disease are
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of physical activity
- Consuming too much saturated fats and sugar
- Inadequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids
- High cholesterol
- Some times there may be no apparent risk factor
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is often apparent because of an ultrasound for an unrelated condition. Blood tests may reveal elevated liver enzymes. In asymptomatic patients, non alcoholic liver disease is usually a disease of exclusion.
How is the condition treated?
The best treatment is prevention. Once detected every step should be taken to prevent the progression of liver cell damage. Here are the best care strategies to prevent the occurrence or progression of non alcoholic liver disease:
- You’re not going to like this stop eating all the bakery pastries and pizza’s. It is really hard to resist any of this. You don’t want to eat it frequently. It is not good for the body, it is not good for the liver. There is scientific evidence that is saying why this is bad for the body and liver.
- Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids because this actually may protect against developing fatty liver.
- Eating too much sugar and weight gain can actually put a lot of stress on the liver and then this causes accumulation of fat in the liver. Practically thinking it may be difficult to avoid sugar completely. So, one of the strategies that can be accomplished is you can eat something with sugar like a cereal with breakfast, knowing that during the day you’re going to use that sugar up.
- Avoid any such things before dinner and also at least 2-3 hours before bedtime so you are not putting a lot of stress on the liver with you going to bed as soon as you finish eating.
- The next thing is physical activity. This does not mean lifting heavy weights, it does not mean running a marathon. If you do that that’s fantastic, but if you unable to do that simple things like just walking has a lot of benefits. So, any physical activity will actually cause melting of fat within the liver and also helps melt fat in other parts of the body. The other benefit is it also prevents new fat from going and sitting in the liver. If you want to scale up resistance training, aerobic exercises, hi intensity interval training are fantastic exercises to prevent against fatty liver and also against many other health problems.
- There is a natural sugar which everybody can eat and its healthy and its fruits. How about eating more fruits instead of eating pastries and pizzas? It’s a fantastic way to help prevent fatty liver and also weight gain. The other food items that are actually being found beneficial are tea especially green tea coffee and nuts like almonds, walnuts.
Why is liver prone for fat deposition?
Whatever food is eaten, is taken by the blood in the stomach and then the intestines and then it goes up to the liver. The liver actually functions as a factory, as a store house and it has a lot of different functions. So, the liver goes through a lot of stress which can cause problems within the liver. Now if you tend to overeat, if you are obese, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, if you don’t do much physical activity, the liver which acts as a filter in the body is really overworked. It reaches a stage where it gets very tired and then it can fail.
Fatty liver disease: Turning the tide https://www.nature.com/articles/550S101a
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