Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Self-Care
Fight Fatty Liver Disease – Learn About Symptoms, Self-Care, Treatments, and Medication Today
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly common medical condition that affects the liver. It is the accumulation of fat in the liver due to causes other than excessive alcohol consumption or drug use. If left untreated, NAFLD can progress to more serious conditions such as fibrosis and cirrhosis, both of which require intensive medical treatment. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments for NAFLD in order to give a better understanding of this disease.
What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition where excess fat accumulates within the liver cells. While it can be caused by heavy alcohol use, most cases are not related to alcohol consumption and are instead associated with unhealthy lifestyles such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
What are the types of NAFLD?
- Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD): Alcoholic liver disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and accounts for up to 20 percent of all cases of cirrhosis worldwide. Women are more likely than men to develop ALD as they need less alcohol consumption for their livers to be affected negatively due to differences in body composition between genders. Oftentimes, ALD does not produce any signs or symptoms until advanced stages, so early detection and treatment are essential in reducing complications associated with this form of fatty liver disorder.
- Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC): Primary Biliary Cholangitis is a progressive autoimmune disorder that affects women more often than men and results in progressive destruction and inflammation of small bile ducts within the liver – leading to end-stage jaundice amongst other findings on a routine physical exam which includes elevated bilirubin levels.
- Cryptogenic Cirrhosis: Cryptogenic cirrhosis occurs when the exact cause behind cirrhosis cannot be determined due to insufficient evidence upon further diagnosis or biomarkers testing such as bodily fluids or imaging studies found within traditional clinical notes through patient history analysis by a team comprised of healthcare professionals spanning various medical specialties including diagnostics interpretations completed via laboratory sciences analysis used using complex electronic network data mining technology.
What Are The Symptoms Of NAFLD?
In most cases of NAFLD, there may be no signs or symptoms at all. If symptoms do present themselves they tend to be nonspecific (such as fatigue, abdominal pain, or feeling unwell). Individuals with long-standing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may have jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Who Is At Risk For Developing NAFLD?
Certain lifestyle choices may increase your risk for developing NAFLD including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and an overall sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, certain genetic factors may put you at higher risk for developing this condition.
How Does NAFLD Affect the Body?
When someone has NAFLD, their body releases more insulin than usual in order to store fat in the liver cells. This can lead to inflammation and other forms of damage within these cells that eventually impair the proper functioning of the internal organ. Eventually, this will result in cirrhosis – a type of advanced-stage scarring – which can have severe health implications due to disruptions caused by impaired blood flow out from the heart through to other organs like the kidneys or eyes.
How To Diagnose NAFLD?
Diagnosis typically begins with a clinical evaluation which includes a dedicated physical exam along with laboratory testing including markers indicative of possible cirrhosis such as Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) and Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) testing among others. Biopsy testing can also provide further confirmation of diagnosis if required.
Can Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Be Treated or Cured?
Fortunately, yes! The key way to treat or cure non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is through lifestyle changes such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly – both help reduces fat buildup in the body which will consequently improve those built up within our livers too.
In combination with medication and regular exercise managing one’s diet also plays an important role – cutting back on processed foods while increasing fruit/vegetable intake alongside reducing sugar encourages better digestion overall thus improving overall health when preventing/treating non-alcohol related conditions like those mentioned above since all these lifestyles modifications benefit both our bodies & minds helping us achieve healthier goals going forward!
Treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease typically involves lifestyle modifications focusing on weight loss through caloric restriction coupled with moderate-intensity exercise regimens paired with smoking cessation if applicable.
Complications of NAFLD
One of the most serious complications of NAFLD is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can lead to significant reductions in liver function and cause fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.
Another complication of NAFLD is the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC which is one type of cancer that originates from abnormal cell growth in the liver tissue. Patients with advanced stages of NAFLD have an elevated risk for HCC as compared to those without any form of fatty liver disease. Having an early diagnosis is important for helping reduce your risks for this possibly life-threatening complication of NAFLD.
Those with NAFLD who don’t get early treatment may also be at risk for developing esophageal varices. This is the enlargement of veins that are in the lower part of the esophagus near the gastroesophageal junction. These weakened vessels are more prone to rupture and can initially manifest as signs such as frequent episodes of vomiting blood or discovering blood when you go to the bathroom after stools pass through them. If not treated promptly these varices can also potentially lead to life-threatening cases such year burst GI tract bleeds (GITB).
Tips To Maintain Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease At Home
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: One should eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and fats. This will help keep your liver functioning optimally and avoid further damage. It’s also important to limit processed and refined carbohydrates. As these can put more stress on the liver.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise is important not just for general health but also to reduce your risk of developing fatty livers. Physical activity helps burn fat, builds muscle, and increases oxygenation throughout the body. It also improves blood glucose levels, strengthens bones, and reduces inflammation.
- Monitor Your Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing NAFLD. So it’s important to monitor your weight loss progress regularly.
- Avoid Sugary Drinks: Limiting sugary drinks like sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks is key to reducing insulin levels. Choose water or sugar-free beverages instead. As these will be healthier options overall for your general well-being. As well as keeping an eye on your sugar content intake per day.
- Cut out Alcohol Intake: Reducing alcohol consumption can lower fat build-up in the liver cells caused by heavy drinking habits. This allows them to get back into proper metabolic balance so they can function normally again.
Medication For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Prescription Medications: Prescription medications are usually prescribed after lifestyle changes have proven to be ineffective. Common treatments include insulin sensitizers such as metformin. This helps in controlling blood sugar levels, and vitamin E supplements. This can reduce oxidative damage to the liver cells, and statins, help lower cholesterol levels.
In addition to prescription medications for NAFLD, many over-the-counter remedies may be helpful for managing mild cases of the condition:
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial strains of bacteria that help balance intestinal microflora. Studies show they may reduce hepatic fat by up to 50%. Provide anti-inflammatory effects on the liver cells, and improve glucose metabolism.
- Curcumin: Curcumin is a compound in turmeric that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This help combat inflammation with fatty liver disease.
- Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is a herb that treats symptoms of fatty liver disorders. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the liver cells. Studies also suggest it helps speed up metabolic processes in the cells surrounding healthy mitochondria. This is an important factor for anyone with NAFLD.
- Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzymes act like brooms when taken orally before meals or snacks. This helps in breaking down food faster so there’s less likelihood of digestive buildup or indigestion. Both are potential problems among people with NFALD. There are several types of digestive enzymes available over-the-counter. Consult your physician before taking these products if you have questions about dosing instructions or drug interactions
- Natural Supplements: Various natural supplements have the ability to reduce inflammation associated with NFALD including omega-3 fats.