Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a global public issue. The prevalence of the disease has considerable progressed to liver cirrhosis putting individuals at risk for the end stage liver disease and primary liver cancer. The NAFLD is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which results in liver related mortality and other heart related diseases.
Some fat in your liver is normal, but if it makes up more than 5% to 10% of the organ’s weight, you may have a fatty liver disease. If you are used to drinking heavily, stop, because that is one of the key causes of the condition.
The prevalence is increasing among obese or overweight individuals who developed the metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes in addition to people who have been taking a variety of drugs and toxins. The risk is similar to an immune dysregulation. You may not know, but you may have it.
It is not clear what causes the NAFLD, but this tends to happen among those who are overweight or obese, and in the middle aged. Other causes are viral hepatitis, medications, autoimmune or inherited liver disease, fast weight loss, and malnutrition.
Some studies found that having too much bacteria in your small intestine and the other changes in the intestine may be linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The NAFLD is actually an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol.
The NAFLD occurs in every age group, but most predominant in individuals who are already in their 40s and 50s. The condition is also closely linked to the metabolic syndrome. However, the main characteristic of this type of disease is too much fat stored in the liver cells.
The nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is considered a potentially serious form of disease, is marked by a liver inflammation. This may progress to scarring and an irreversible damage, which is similar to the damage caused by a heavy alcohol use. At its most severe condition, it can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
The NAFLD usually causes no signs and symptoms. When it does, it may include
- Enlarged liver
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and cirrhosis (advanced scarring) include
- Abdominal swelling
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
- Enlarged breast in men
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Experts don’t know exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not. They may be linked to the following
- Overweight or obesity
- Insulin resistance
- High blood sugar
- High level of fats
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Underactive thyroid
- Underactive pituitary gland
Excess fat acts as a toxin to the liver cells, causing a liver inflammation and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the liver. The nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is more likely in these groups
- Older people
- People with diabetes
- People with body fat concentrated in the abdomen
A healthy liver should contain little or no fat. Having high levels of fat in your liver is also associated with an increased risk of problems such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
If you have a fat that makes about 5 to 10% of the weight of your liver, then you may have a nonalcoholic liver disease. One of the causes of a fatty liver disease is the abuse or overuse of alcohol. This may occur after a short period of heavy drinking.
Other factors are hepatitis C, an overload of iron, obesity, medications, malnutrition, rapid weight loss, and autoimmune liver disease. The excess fat in the liver is the most common cause of liver disease.
It could develop into an enlargement of the liver and replace the liver cells by scar tissue called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the 4th most common cause of death of people between the ages 30 and 50.
The liver is the recycling center of the body. It serves to filter large toxins from the blood, synthesize, and secrete bile to remove the impurities out of the body. If the liver fails, the only viable solution is a $400,000 liver transplant.
The NAFLD refers to a wide spectrum of liver damage, ranging from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis, advanced fibrosis, and cirrhosis. People with liver damage may develop complicated metabolic issues.
It takes a personalized diet prepared by a registered dietitian to nourish the liver that is already on its way to developing cirrhosis. Take note that an increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup, primarily in the form of soft drinks, is linked with the complications of the insulin resistance syndrome and contributes to the development of NAFLD.
Increasing evidence indicates that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the hepatic component of a systemic metabolic syndrome that includes obesity, insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension.
The prevention and treatment may include correcting the risk factors with exercise and appropriate diet. You also need to avoid drugs that can exacerbate the liver disease, such as the alcohol, tamoxifen, and steroids.
At this point, a healthy diet meal plan may enhance the ability of the liver to detoxify. You can achieve this by eating more cruciferous vegetables.
Does the size of your waist matters?
Definitely yes! The excess abdominal fat is associated with the fatty liver disease and other health risks such as diabetes. Waist measurements are used to identify the health risks associated with excess abdominal fat. For men, it should be no more than 40 inches. For women, it should be no more than 35 inches.
These liver disorders are generally chronic, but progressive. The disease progression usually takes decades and depends on a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Currently, there is no medication proven to effectively treat a fatty liver disease, if the main causes are related to obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia.
Strategies for treatment revolved around the identification and treatment of the associated metabolic conditions, such as improving insulin resistance through fat loss, exercise, and pharmacotherapy. The metabolic syndrome and its features of central obesity (waist circumference ⩾94 cm for men, ⩾80 cm for women), glucose intolerance (fasting glucose ⩾6.10 mmol/l), hypertriglyceridaemia (>1.70 mmol/l), low HDL cholesterol (<1.30 mmol/l in women, <1.03 mmol/l in men), and hypertension (⩾135/80 mm Hg) are associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Usually, the treatment is based on lifestyle modification, weight loss, and physical activity in order to reduce the amount of fat in the liver. Obese patients are advised to achieve a gradual and sustained weight loss through proper nutrition and exercise.
By choosing a healthy lifestyle, you may prevent obesity. The number one reason for fatty liver disease is fat around your liver. Please remember that a healthy diet and exercise are important components of any weight-loss regimen. The following are some suggestions for preventing fatty liver disease:
- Choose to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- If you are overweight, strive for a gradual and sustained weight loss.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and high in fiber.
- Minimize sugar consumption, reduce the intake of fried food
- Introduce exercise into your routine, at least four times a week. You can enjoy walking, swimming, gardening, stretching.
- Avoid alcohol.
Anti aging fat loss and exercise is associated with the improvement of insulin sensitivity. Weight reduction can be achieved by following a calorie restricted diet or physical exercise.
You must be aware that the optimal diet to treat NAFLD is not known. It is for your good health that you should start thinking about making better food choices now.
NAFLD tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the main way of managing NAFLD. The following can all help:
- Lose weight – you should aim for a BMI of 18.5-24.9; use the BMI calculator to work out your BMI. Losing more than 10% of your weight can remove some fat from the liver and improve NASH if you have it.
- Eat a healthy diet – try to have a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat, sugar and salt. Eating smaller portions of food can help too.
- Exercise regularly – aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week. All types of exercise can help improve NAFLD, even if you don’t lose weight.
- Stop smoking – if you smoke, stopping can help reduce your risk of problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
It is important that your diet maximizes the capacity of the body to detoxify. The liver is involved in everything that the human body eats and drinks.
By eating cruciferous vegetables, you help activate the liver’s cytochrome P450 detoxification chain. Are you getting enough cruciferous vegetables in your diet?
The cruciferous vegetables are unique because they are rich in sulfur containing compounds called glucosinolates, which support detoxification and indole-3-carbinol. They highly reduce the risk of breast, colon, and lung cancer.
The brussel sprouts could even stimulate the liver’s Phase II enzymes. The family of the cruciferous vegetable includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, arugula, bok choy, horseradish, rutabaga, cabbage, turnips, watercress, collard greens, wasabi, and brussel sprouts.
The cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, carotenoids, carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, folate, and minerals. They are also a good source of fiber.
The cruciferous vegetables contain the sulfur containing glucosinolates, which is responsible for the biologically active compounds indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. These compounds demonstrate anticancer effects, such as deactivating carcinogens and protecting the cells from DNA damage. They also inhibit tumor blood vessel formation.
Research suggests that this happens because glucosinolates stimulate what are known as Phase II enzymes, the body’s natural antioxidant system. In essence, glucosinolates trigger the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes that block free-radical attack on your DNA. It has also been reported that glucosinolates:
- Are anti-inflammatory
- Contain antibacterial and antiviral properties
- Inactivate carcinogens
- Reprogram cancer cells to die-off
- Prevent tumor formation and metastasis
Glucosinolates act as natural pesticides in plant cells and, when they are consumed by humans, are utilized for DNA repair and help prevent cancer by slowing cancer cell growth.
According to Jon Michnovicz, MD, PhD, the President of the Foundation for Preventive Oncology, Inc., “Studies have shown that if you make cabbage into a paste and rub in on the backs of laboratory animals, you can prevent tumors from developing.”
One hundred calories worth of cruciferous vegetables (about 5 to 6% of a daily diet) provide about 25 to 40% of your daily fiber requirement. The cruciferous vegetables are an incredible bargain when it comes to fiber.
Two additional macronutrients, proteins and fats, also deserve special mention with respect to recent research on cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables can contribute a surprising amount of protein to the diet, which is over 25% of the daily value in 3 cups, and at a very low calorie cost.
Cruciferous vegetables have it all: vitamins, fiber, and disease fighting phytochemicals. Lab studies show that sulforaphane, which is one of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, can stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells.
Important: Eating raw cruciferous vegetables actually suppresses your thyroid’s hormone production, creating fatigue, coldness in your body and a slowing of your metabolism. When eating cruciferous vegetables, it is important to cook them to avoid the thyroid suppressing properties.
Vegetables should be a key staple in your diet – 80% of what you eat overall. Adult women should eat about 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, while adult men should eat about 3 cups. Your total vegetable intake doesn’t have to come from cruciferous vegetables, but they should be incorporated daily for maximum health benefits.
Erickson, S. K. (2009). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674744/
Mayo Clinic. Nonalchoholic fatty liver disease.
Sterling, M. (1999). Can cirrhosis be prevented? Chiro.
WebMD. Hepatitis health center.