Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease—also known as hepatic steatosis—is the result of more than the normal amount of fat buildup in the liver. A vital organ, your liver helps process nutrients from the food you eat and filter out harmful substances from your blood. Too much fat buildup can damage your liver and lead to scarring (also called liver fibrosis) and possibly cirrhosis (a severe form of liver fibrosis) or liver failure.
Causes of Liver Disease
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Autoimmune diseases
- Damage from prescription drugs and some over-the-counter supplements
Think you have Fatty Liver Disease?
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment!
Two Kinds of Fatty Liver
Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) is a buildup of fat in the liver due to an excessive alcohol intake.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a buildup of fat in the liver that is not related to alcohol intake, and it affects around one-third of Americans. When a fatty liver progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the liver has become inflamed. Once scarring occurs, the first stage is called fibrosis. Finally, when scarring has damaged most of the liver, cirrhosis results.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease
It is common for those with fatty liver disease to experience no noticeable symptoms, but some people experience:
- discomfort/pain in the upper right side of your abdomen.
Symptoms of Cirrhosis
When a complication develops, and liver scarring becomes severe, the fatty liver disease can become cirrhosis. Symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- clusters of blood vessels under your skin
- abdominal pain/swelling
- leg swelling
- weight loss
- itchy skin
- yellow skin and eyes
- breast enlargement in men
If you have been diagnosed with Cirrhosis, our team at Lotsu Digestive Health and Nutrition Center™ can help you get the information you need to manage it. Call us today.
The Role of Nutrition and Diet and How it Affects Fatty Liver Disease
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
NAFLD is a disease that can result from a complex interplay of genetics, diet, and lifestyle, but nutrition plays the most important role. Below are some of the primary lifestyle factors that often lead to NAFLD.
Limit your intake of simple carbohydrates, especially fructose which is in soft drinks, and saturated fat. On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats, in particular omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, may play a protective role in NAFLD. Likewise, increasing protein intake may also help lower liver fat content. In addition, research has shown black coffee to be inversely associated with progression of fatty liver to fibrosis.
Weight Loss and Exercise
Most people affected by NAFLD are either overweight or obese. Fat accumulations leads to enlarged livers and eventually scarring of liver in those that have NASH. Losing weight over time can reverse the condition. However, try to avoid very low-calorie diets because they help weight loss in short term but often times are not sustainable for people. Regular physical activity and even a small amount of weight loss (even 5% change in body weight) can significantly improve NAFLD.
Lifestyle changes, including nutrition, play a critical part in the prevention and treatment of NAFLD. Following dietary and lifestyle guidelines for maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your risk of and help treat NAFLD and its complications. Schedule an appointment with us today so we can help you get the help you need!