Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Major Causes & Treatments

Fatty Liver Disease

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Major Causes & Treatments

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease:

An accumulation of fat in your liver might occur if you consume too much alcohol. Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver tissue, can result. The amount of scarring on the liver affects its function. If you drink little or no alcohol, fatty tissue can form in your liver. This is referred to as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Cirrhosis might potentially be a result of it.

Changing one’s lifestyle can typically prevent NAFLD from worsening. However, some people may develop life-threatening liver disorders as a result of the illness.

Fatty liver disease is the umbrella term for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Hepatic steatosis is characterized as a condition in which the weight of the liver is 5 to 10% fat.

NAFLD is becoming more frequent over the world, particularly in Western countries. It is the most common form of chronic liver disease in the United States, which affects almost one-quarter of the country’s population.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an aggressive form of fatty liver disease defined by liver inflammation that can progress to severe scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure in certain people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This harm is similar to that induced by heavy alcohol consumption.

Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by the absence of signs and symptoms. When this occurs, they may include the following:

  1. Fatigue.
  2. Upper right abdominal pain or discomfort.

The following are some of the indications and symptoms of NASH and progressive scarring (cirrhosis):

  • Swelling in the abdomen (ascites).
  • Spleen enlargement Enlarged blood vessels immediately beneath the skin’s surface.
  • Palms that are red in color.
  • The skin and eyes turn a yellowish color (Jaundice).

Cause of Fatty Liver:

NAFLD’s specific causes aren’t well understood. A link between the condition and insulin resistance appears to exist.

The pancreas produces a hormone, Insulin. Insulin helps release cells to take glucose (sugar) from your blood when your muscles and tissues require it for energy. Insulin also aids in the storage of excess glucose in the liver.

Insulin resistance occurs when your cells do not respond to insulin in the way that they should. As a result, the liver accumulates an excessive amount of fat. This might result in inflammation and scarring of the liver.

Risk Factor of Fatty Liver Disease:

An estimated 20% of the population suffers from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Although you can have NAFLD without being insulin resistant, insulin resistance appears to be the biggest risk factor.

Overweight people and those who live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is also associated with the following risk factors:

  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Diabetes.
  • Triglyceride levels that are too high.
  • Corticosteroids are drugs that are used to treat inflammation.
  • Usage of some cancer drugs, such as Tamoxifen for breast cancer.
  • Pregnancy is also one reason.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can also be exacerbated by poor eating habits or rapid weight reduction.

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Cirrhosis, or late-stage scarring of the liver, is the most common consequence of NAFLD and NASH. Cirrhosis develops as a result of liver injury, such as the inflammation that occurs in NASH. As the liver tries to reduce inflammation, scarring develops (fibrosis). Fibrosis spreads when inflammation continues, consuming more and more liver tissue.

Cirrhosis can lead to the following if the process isn’t stopped:

  • In the abdomen, there is an accumulation of fluid (ascites).
  • Esophageal varicose are swollen veins in the esophagus that can burst and hemorrhage.
  • Drowsiness, confusion, and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy) is a most common effect.
  • Cancer of the liver.
  • End-stage liver failure occurs when the liver’s functions have ceased.

Fix Fatty Liver:

To get rid of fatty liver, you can lose weight and cut back on carbohydrates, among other things. Furthermore, certain nutrients also help to reduce liver fat.

If you are overweight or obese, you should lose weight and avoid overeating.

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight is one of the greatest strategies to reverse fatty liver.

In fact, weight loss has been proven to enhance liver fat loss in persons with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, whether the weight loss was achieved only through dietary changes or in conjunction with weight loss surgery or exercise.

In a three-month study of overweight persons, cutting calories by 500 calories per day resulted in an average weight loss of 8% and a significant reduction in fatty liver score. Furthermore, even if some of the weight is recovered, the gains in liver fat and insulin sensitivity tend to last.

Reduce your carb intake, especially refined carbs.

It may appear that reducing dietary fat is the most logical strategy to address fatty liver.

However, researchers found that dietary fat accounts for just approximately 16 percent of liver fat in persons with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Rather, most liver fat comes from fatty acids in their blood, with de novo lipogenesis accounting for roughly 26% of hepatic fat formation (DNL).

In one study, obese adults who take a diet high in calories and take refine carbs for three weeks experienced a 27% increase in liver fat, on average, even though their weight only increased by 2%.

According to a study, consuming diets low in refined carbs may help reverse NAFLD. These include low-carb, Mediterranean, and also includes low-glycemic-index diets.

Even while weight loss was identical on both diets, liver fat and insulin resistance fell substantially more when patients ate a Mediterranean diet than when they ate a low-fat, high-carb diet, according to one study.

Although both the Mediterranean and very low-carb diets have been demonstrated to lower liver fat on their own, a study that combined the two found even more stunning effects.

Consume food that helps in the loss of liver fats:

Aside from limiting carbs and avoiding excessive calorie intake, some other foods and beverages may help with fatty liver:

  • Monounsaturated fats: Studies show that meals high in monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil, avocados, and almonds, can help you lose weight in your liver.
  • Whey protein: In obese women, whey protein has been proven to lower liver fat by up to 20%. It may also assist persons with advanced liver disease to lower their liver enzyme levels and provide other advantages.
  • Green tea: According to one study, catechins, which are antioxidants contained in green tea, helping persons with NAFLD reduce liver fat and inflammation.
  • Soluble fiber: According to some research, eating 10–14 grams of soluble fiber per day will help lower liver fat, lower liver enzyme levels, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Exercise every day:

Aerobic exercise can help you lose weight by reducing the amount of fat in your liver. A strenuous workout may also help to reduce inflammation. Weight lifting and other resistance or strength training exercises can help with fatty liver disease.

At least 5 days a week, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of mid to high-intensity aerobic activity, and 3 days a week, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of mid to high-intensity strength training.

Diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease:

Because the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is asymptomatic in the vast majority of patients, it is typically discovered when tests for other reasons reveal a liver disease. This can happen if your liver seems abnormal on ultrasonography or if your liver enzyme test is abnormal.

The following tests are used to identify the diagnosis and establish the severity of the disease:

  • A full blood count.
  • Tests for liver enzymes and liver function.
  • Chronic viral hepatitis tests (hepatitis A, hepatitis C, and others).
  • A test for celiac disease is available.
  • Blood sugar levels after a fast.
  • Hemoglobin A1C is a blood sugar indicator that reflects how stable your blood sugar is.
  • A lipid profile is a blood test that evaluates blood fats like cholesterol and triglycerides.

Procedures for Imaging:

  • Abdominal ultrasonography, which is generally the first test when liver disease is suspected, is one of the imaging modalities diagnose to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Doctors perform, Abdominal computed tomography (CT) scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These approaches can’t tell the difference between NASH and NAFLD, but they’re still useful.
  • The stiffness of your liver is measured using transient elastography, a more advanced form of ultrasonography. Fibrosis or scarring of the liver is indicated by stiffness.
  • Magnetic resonance elastography creates a visual map (elastogram) of the stiffness of bodily tissues by combining MRI imaging with sound waves.

Liver Tissue Examination:

If other tests come up negative, your doctor may suggest removing a sample of tissue from your liver (liver biopsy). In a laboratory, the tissue sample is evaluated for evidence of inflammation and scarring.

A liver biopsy can be unpleasant, and there are certain minor concerns that your doctor will discuss with you.

  1. Blood Tests:

Fatty liver disease is frequently diagnosed when blood tests reveal increased liver enzymes. To examine your liver enzymes, your doctor may prescribe the alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) tests.

If you’ve developed signs or symptoms of liver disease, these tests may be advised, or they may be conducted as part of normal blood testing.

Inflammation in the liver is indicated by elevated liver enzymes. Fatty liver disease is one cause of liver inflammation, but it is far from the only one.

If you have increased liver enzymes, your doctor will most likely order more testing to figure out what’s causing the inflammation.

  1. Physical Examination:

Your doctor may palpate or press on your abdomen to look for liver inflammation. They may be able to tell if your liver is enlarged.

It is conceivable, however, for your liver to be inflammatory but not enlarged. By touch, your doctor may not be able to identify if your liver is inflamed.

  1. Medical History or Heredity:

If your doctor suspects you have fatty liver, he or she will most likely ask you about:

  • Any medical history in your family, particularly any history of liver illness.
  • Drinking habits and other lifestyle choices.
  • Any medical conditions you may have, any drugs you may be taking, and any recent changes in your health.

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Treatment of Fatty Liver Disease:

Weight loss through a mix of a healthy diet and exercise is usually the first line of treatment. The conditions that lead to NAFLD can be addressed by losing weight. Although a loss of 10% of body weight is ideal, improvements in risk variables can be shown if you lose just 3% to 5% of your beginning weight. For those who need to reduce weight, weight-loss surgery is also a possibility.

Foods to Eat in Fatty Liver Disease:

Take a look at the Mediterranean diet. Although it wasn’t designed for persons with fatty liver disease, this way of eating incorporates items that aid in the reduction of fat in the liver, such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and complex carbs.

The following are some of the items on the table that you should grab:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts Olive oil Vegetables Whole grains
  • Avocados and Legumes
  1. Choose fats wisely.

Your cells get their energy from glucose, a type of sugar. Insulin aids in the transport of glucose from digested food into your cells.

Insulin resistance is very common in those with fatty liver disease. That means your body produces insulin but is unable to properly utilize it. Glucose builds up in your bloodstream, where it is converted to fat by your liver.

Certain fats in your diet can improve the way your body uses insulin. This means your cells can absorb glucose and your liver won’t have to produce or retain fat.

  1. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

  • Fish,
  • fish oil,
  • vegetable oils,
  • nuts (particularly walnuts),
  • flaxseeds and flaxseed oil,
  • Leafy vegetables.

Monounsaturated fats can be found in olives, almonds, and avocados, among other plant sources.

Foods to avoid:

Avoid saturated fats, which cause your liver to accumulate more fatty deposits. This includes the following:

  • Except for lean white flesh, poultry
  • cheese with a high-fat content
  • Except for low-fat yogurt
  • Red meat can be harmful.
  • Palm or coconut oil is used in baked dishes and fried delicacies.
  • Candy, ordinary soda, and other foods with added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are rich in sugar.

Antioxidants and Supplements: Go for a Healthy Liver:

When nutrients aren’t broken down properly, they cause damage to cells. Antioxidants, on the other hand, can help protect cells from harm. Where you can find it?

  • Coffee
  • Green tea contains lots of antioxidants.
  • Garlic.
  • Fruits, especially berries, are high in antioxidants.
  • Vegetables.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Sunflower seeds can be an addition to your diet.
  • Almonds.
  • Olive or canola oil are liquid plant-based oils with monounsaturated fats.

Supplements Good for Fatty Liver:

  • Goji berry (wolfberry), a Chinese medicinal herb, may help you lose weight. However, further research is required to determine whether or not this is correct.
  • Resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes, may aid in the reduction of inflammation. According to conflicting studies, how well it works is dependent on how much you consume.
  • Selenium is a mineral that can be found in Brazil nuts, tuna, and oysters, among other things.
  • Thistle of the milk. It’s also known as silymarin, which is the major ingredient in its seeds. The evidence is conflicting as to whether it actually works.
  • Berberine is a Chinese medicinal plant. It appears to aid with cholesterol, liver function, and blood sugar control in early investigations. However, additional research is needed to establish if it helps.

Before taking any supplements, consult your doctor. They may interfere with the effectiveness of your medications or cause other health issues. If you don’t take the proper amount in the right method, they may not be effective.

Get your Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Low levels may contribute to the progression of fatty liver disease. When you’re outside in the sun, your body produces vitamin D. It’s also found in several dairy products. Low-fat dairy products are better since they have less saturated fat.
  • Potassium. NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) may be associated with low levels (NAFLD). Cod, salmon, and sardines are excellent sources. It’s also found in fruits like bananas, kiwi, and apricots, as well as vegetables like broccoli, peas, and sweet potatoes. Potassium is also found in dairy foods such as milk and yogurt. Choose low-fat alternatives.
  • Betaine. It may help to protect your liver from fatty deposits, but the evidence is conflicting. Wheat germ and shrimp both contain it.


In many cases, fatty liver can be reversed by making lifestyle adjustments. These modifications may aid in the prevention of liver injury and scarring.

If left untreated, the illness can lead to inflammation, liver damage, and even irreparable scarring. Cirrhosis is a severe stage of liver cancer.

Cirrhosis raises your chances of getting liver cancer and failing your liver.

These problems have the potential to be lethal.

It’s critical to stick to your doctor’s treatment plan and live a healthy lifestyle to achieve the greatest results.

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