Fatty Liver Disease occurs when fat accumulates inside the liver. The alcoholic version is caused by excess drinking, and the non-alcoholic form (NAFLD), while physically the same, is due to other causes.

While doctors don't know the exact cause of NAFLD, there is a strong correlation with insulin resistance, being overweight, and metabolic related issues. This excessive fat accumulation is not a serious issue in its early stages. However, as fat accumulates in the liver's cells, it reduces the efficiency of the organ, causes it to inflame, and can lead to cirrhosis and death.

Symptoms

NAFLD is often referred to as a "silent" disease – it often shows no symptoms, and most cases are discovered through routine blood tests. There can be certain signs, which include:

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen

  • Loss of weight

  • Loss of appetite

The problem, of course, is since these symptoms are so common with other illnesses or just "getting old", many times they are missed or disregarded.

A blood test doesn't "prove" a case of fatty liver disease, but elevated liver enzymes can show a "possibility" of the illness. The only sure way is through a liver biopsy, which is often unnecessary. If the patient is overweight and has bad eating habits, it is a good idea to undergo lifestyle changes anyway.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Fatty Liver Disease

Fortunately, fatty liver can be controlled. If you drink alcohol, you MUST stop completely.

The non-alcoholic version is a bit more complicated, because of the numerous reasons you may have it in the first place. It could be a metabolic disorder such as Wilson's Disease, an overdose of iron, side-effects from medication or infection from hepatitis C.

However, if you are overweight, eat a lot of processed food, and /or are borderline diabetes, there is a great chance that this could be causing your fatty liver.

If this is the case, here are is what you must do:

  • lose weight, but not too fast. Rapid weight loss triggers liver enzymes which will actually make your condition worse

  • if you have Diabetes, you must get it under control. There is increasing evidence that diabetes and a fatty liver are interlinked

  • Moderate exercise and a well-balanced diet is essential

  • Avoid sugar-rich, simple carbohydrates. Replace with whole grains and vegetables

If these preventive measures do not provide the person with the desired results, then a medical consultation, including a liver biopsy, will likely be necessary.

Hopefully though, by eating better, exercising and losing weight, not only your liver but your entire quality of life will be much higher. Take care of your health by taking care of your liver!

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