Body fat is essential, but when your body consists of too much fat, you can develop a range of potentially serious health problems. Fatty liver is one of those conditions; it has become increasingly common in recent years, partly due to the rise of obesity.
Our specialists at Delta Medical Weight Management Center in Southaven, Mississippi, led by Dr. Ulric Duncan, are committed to serving our patients by providing services that nurture you mentally and spiritually. Our customized weight-loss plans can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight while enjoying its many benefits—including a healthier liver.
In this blog post, in honor of International NASH Day on June 10, 2021, we’re sharing facts about fatty liver disease, including how it’s linked to excess weight and ways you can prevent or reverse it.
Types of fatty liver disease
There are two main types of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): simple fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). When you have simple fatty liver, it means that fat has gathered in your liver, but you may not have any cell damage or inflammation in the organ. This condition usually doesn’t worsen.
NASH, on the other hand, is more severe and does involve inflammation within your liver. This inflammation, as well as damage in the liver’s cells, can cause a range of potentially serious complications, such as cirrhosis, fibrosis, and liver cancer. About 20% of people with nonalcoholic liver disease, or 1 in 5, have this form.
Why fatty liver disease is on the rise
Some 25% of the world’s population lives with NAFLD, a number that has been steadily increasing along with rates of high cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes in the United States. If you drink heavily, have certain genetic mutations, female gender , or carry excessive amounts of weight, you’re at higher risk for all of these conditions.
Obesity is considered a strong risk factor for NASH because when your body contains too much fat, you can develop insulin resistance, which causes your pancreas to work harder to maintain your blood sugar levels. As a result, you can develop type 2 diabetes. These issues can also fuel weight gain and set off inflammation in your body. And the more inflammation you have, the more likely you are to develop it within your liver.
What to do about fatty liver disease
If added pounds are contributing to your fatty liver disease symptoms, losing those pounds can go far toward improving your overall health. Research shows that losing 10% of your weight when you’re overweight causes your liver enzymes to improve. This correlates with reduced inflammation in your liver.
Other helpful steps may include:
- Avoiding or severely limiting alcohol
- Eating a nutrient-dense diet that limits salt and added sugars
- Getting vaccinated for hepatitis A, B, influenza, and pneumococcal disease
- Exercising routinely
- Avoiding unapproved dietary supplements that may damage your liver
If you’re having trouble limiting alcohol, prescription medications may help by reducing your cravings or making alcohol less enjoyable. If you’re overweight and drink regularly or heavily, cutting back on alcohol will likely help you reach a healthier weight, too.
If you’re struggling with weight control or don’t know where to start, our specialists at Delta Medical Weight Management Center can help by creating a customized plan and providing ongoing support. We also offer behavior counseling, which can be vital if you’re obese or have difficulty shifting your lifestyle in healthy ways.