Fatty tissue slowly builds up in the liver when a person’s diet surpasses the amount of fat his or her body can handle. A person is considered to have a fatty liver when more than 5% of their liver is made up by fat.
Fatty liver is a reversible condition that can be resolved with changed behaviours. It often has no symptoms and generally does not cause permanent damage. The liver is the 2nd largest organ in the body and its function is to process what we consume and filter out any and all harmful substances in our blood. This process however, is interrupted when excess fat is in the liver. Generally, the liver self-repairs by rebuilding new liver cells when the old ones are damaged.
When there is continuous damage to the liver, permanent scarring can take place, leading to what is called cirrhosis.
There are two main types of fatty liver disease:
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) – This disease is primarily contracted from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Genes that are passed down hereditarily can also play a role in ALD. They also have an impact on the way your body breaks down the alcohol you drink.
Other Factors that may affect your chance of getting ALD are –
- Hepatitis C
- Having too much iron content in your body
- Being overweight
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) : Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. It generally tends to be hereditary and is more prone to the middle-aged, overweight or obese and tend to have high cholesterol and diabetes too.
Other Causes For NAFLD Are:
- Viral hepatitis
- Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
- Fast Weight Loss
- Hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood
- Genetic inheritance
- Side effect of certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen, and tetracycline
Symptoms Of A Fatty Liver
- Experience fatigue
- Vague abdominal discomfort might be experienced
- Liver may become slightly enlarged
- Incur some weight loss
- Chances of abdominal pain
- Brain Fog and Confusion
- Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
- Mental changes (encephalopathy)
- Accumulation of fluid (ascites, edema)
- Liver cancer
- Itchy Skin
- Loss of Appetite
Treatment For Fatty Liver
Since fatty liver is majorly caused due to lifestyle, there isn’t a medication or surgery to treat fatty liver. However, these are some of the options your doctor might recommend :
- Cut Down on Alcohol Consumption
- Manage Cholesterol
- Lose excess Body Fat
- Control your Blood Sugar
- Include Milk Thistle in your Diet
- Eat Balanced Diet – Include Adequate fiber in your diet
- Exercise More
Quick Tip : Milk thistle is a well-known liver cleansing supplement because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help reduce liver inflammation.
The foods to avoid are typically those that can spike blood sugar levels, or lead to weight gain, such as:
1. Juice, soda, and sugary beverages
2. Diet drinks that are low calorie
3. Sweet baked goods and desserts (cakes, pastries, pies, ice cream, cake, etc.)
4. Bacon, sausage, cured meats, and fatty meats
6. Fried foods
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Manipal hospital.
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