Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or simply NAFLD, describes a condition where excess fat accumulates in the liver of people who consume little or no alcohol at all. Although some amount of fat may accumulate in the liver of a normal individual, having fat that takes up to five to ten percent of your liver weight can cause fatty liver disease, which may lead to serious health problems.
What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease ?
The liver is a large, complex organ with many vital functions. One of these is the synthesis, transport, and metabolism of fat, which is an important source of energy. Fat may accumulate in large amounts in the liver when an abnormality in these functions occur, ...view middle of the document...
These risk factors include:
overweight or obesity
insulin resistance or prediabetes
type 2 diabetes
malnutrition or rapid weight loss
high blood cholesterol
high blood levels of triglycerides
autoimmune liver disease
gastric bypass surgery
vitamin D deficiency
hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
hypopituitarism (underactive pituitary gland)
overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the intestines
Symptoms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Many people who have fatty livers do not manifest any symptoms until the advanced stages of the disease. The most common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, and vague pains in the right upper portion of the abdomen. Liver damage that leads to cirrhosis and its complications may be manifested in various ways. These include:
Edema due to fluid retention
Enlargement of the abdomen (ascites) due to fluid retention
Muscle wasting due to protein loss
Internal bleeding due to rupture of blood vessels from increased pressure
Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Late stages of the disease can end in liver failure, coma and death.
Treatment of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is reversible if treated before permanent liver damage and cirrhosis occur. There is no specific treatment for NAFLD but since it is strongly associated with certain risk factors such as obesity and diabetes, treating these underlying conditions can help improve liver function.
Many of the risk factors associated with NAFLD may be improved by simple lifestyle changes, including shifting to a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly. Avoiding fatty foods as well as porcessed and sugary foods help promote weight loss. Studies have shown that a significant weight loss of at least 7% may help reduce liver fat and reverse liver inflammation.
Medications aimed at treating underlying conditions such as...