A fatty liver is not the most commonly heard of liver disorder- Jaundice (althrough Jaundice is a symptom and not a disease in itself), may be alcohol related ‘liver failure’. But there is another kind of disorder that can affect your body – Fatty liver. An umbrella term comprising of the non-alcoholic class of liver diseases abbreviated as NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases). As the name suggests, the disease refers to an abnormal fat accumulation in the liver.
Excess of fat accumulation steers the injury of body cells and tissues. This process is known as Steatosis. The Liver, too, gets affected by the chronic fat accumulation and this happens when fat occupies greater than 10% of the liver.
What causes Fatty Liver?
In a recent interview with TOI, our Consultant Surgical Gastroenterologist Dr C Vikram Belliappa said that often it is assumed that occupations which require one to be sedentary were the leading cause for the rise in fatty liver among these people. Fatty liver is not just restricted to the inactive and obese people but is also observed in people with unhealthy eating habits who devour junk food on a regular basis. Junk food contains bad cholesterol which diminishes the fat elimination process causing fatty liver.
Thus, a sedentary lifestyle which is coupled with poor dietary habits, increases the occurrence of fatty liver. The other illnesses which aggravate the fatty liver are Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes and Hyperlipidemia(high cholesterol)
The modern lifestyle has enormously increased the precocious incidence of fatty liver among the young adults which was usually observed in geriatrics. Due to the alarming rise in the fatty liver cases in these younger age groups, a focused awareness about the Fatty liver is imperative.
Are there any treatment options for fatty liver?
Fatty liver is not a death sentence, however, one must seek immediate medical attention, Left untreated, it can progress through various stages leading ultimately to Liver cirrhosis causing irreversible damage to the organ. In this situation, the only solution for a patient is to get a liver transplant.
The fatty liver can be detected using modern diagnostic tools such as Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan and liver function blood tests. Early detection helps abate the serious consequences of fatty liver. Moreover, prevention is the best cure and so consuming a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables will definitely aid in decreasing the buildup of fatty tissue. Although, the essential fatty acids shouldn’t be avoided as they help to eliminate the bad fats from the tissues.
Is there any lifestyle change to avoid fatty liver?
Exercising regularly helps to improve the fat burning and reduce the fatty acid synthesis in the liver. Minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise ensures that the body metabolism runs optimally thereby boosting fat metabolism. Additionally, drinking water supplements the body metabolism. A dehydrated liver has higher chances of fat accumulation with decreased ability to breakdown fat.
What is the way ahead?
Today thousands of people undergo liver transplantation as most of them get diagnosed with fatty liver only in the later stages of the disease. Thus, it is unarguably important to understand the fatty liver disease and equally important to spread awareness among people to pledge for their organs for donation, which can rescue many lives. But most importantly take definitive steps to living a healthy life thus avoiding the problem entirely!