Did you know that the liver is the second biggest organ in the body? This important organ not only helps to process nutrients from the food and drinks we consume, but it also helps filter harmful substances from the blood. This month we want to take a moment to address a common threat to your liver’s health and equip you with the right information to best prevent and detect this condition.
What is fatty liver disease?
If your body produces too much fat or doesn’t metabolize fat efficiently, it is possible for fat to build up in the liver. When this fat accumulates, it can become a health problem called hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver disease. This buildup of fat can damage your liver and even create scarring that can eventually lead to liver failure.
There are two types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Because of the role the liver plays in filtering substances we eat or drink, ADLD is caused by consuming too much alcohol and is often the first stage of liver disease that is alcohol-related.
NAFLD on the other hand can be a little more complex. Factors such as high blood sugar, insulin resistance, obesity, and high levels of fat in the blood tend to contribute to the onset of NAFLD.
Though less common, the following factors can also increase the risk of developing NAFLD:
- Having an infection such as hepatitis C
- Taking certain medications such as valproic acid, tamoxifen, methotrexate, and amiodorone
- Exposure to some toxins
- Rapid weight loss
- Genetic predisposition
If you have any of these risk factors or consume more than an average amount of alcohol, it is important to routinely check with your doctor to ensure you are being adequately tested and screened for fatty liver disease. There are often no noticeable symptoms of fatty liver disease in the early stages, so frequent screening is important to the early detection and treatment of fatty liver disease.
What treatments are available for fatty liver disease? Can I prevent it?
There are currently no medications approved for the use of treating fatty liver disease.
Fortunately, most cases of fatty liver disease can be treated through modified behaviors and lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and eating healthy foods. Some advanced cases may need surgical intervention or medication to treat symptoms.
While some genetic and health factors may put you at a greater risk for developing fatty liver disease, these steps can greatly reduce your chances of developing fatty liver disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep your blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol at a healthy level
- Manage your diabetes (if applicable) and follow your recommended treatment plan as provided by your doctor
- Exercise at least 30 minutes most days
- Limit or avoid alcohol consumption
Additionally, we recommend routine gallbladder flushes and liver cleanses to maintain optimal liver function and health. Talk with your doctor about how you can best manage your health and steps you can take to prevent fatty liver disease. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Transform Your Health, PLLC today.