Few people know what the liver does, as compared to the stomach, intestines, heart, or lungs. Do you agree with me?
The greatest comparison for your liver is a factory. It oversees everything from production through storage and disposal, executing over 500 critical operations and activating thousands of chemical reactions every day. One of its most important functions is to transform the nutrients in our food into energy, which leads to the formation of proteins and antibodies that our bodies require. The liver also stores these compounds until your body is ready to use them as if that weren’t enough. So, let’s dispel some of the myths around the fatty liver.
Myth 1: Fatty liver isn't a serious problem:
As the name indicates, fatty liver refers to a build-up of fat in the liver (anything over 5 per cent of the total organ size).
Many people who have fatty liver have no idea they have it. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t think about it. The fatty liver puts you at risk for more serious conditions such as cirrhosis (liver scarring) and potentially liver cancer. It’s also possible that it won’t cause any issues at all. Why? This is due to the fact that a build-up of fat in the liver damages cells and causes inflammation. Your liver is the only organ in your body that can regenerate by replacing damaged cells with new ones. As your liver tries to get rid of the fat, scar tissue forms, making it difficult to transfer nutrients throughout the body and increasing pressure in the veins surrounding it.
Cirrhosis can be caused by chronic alcohol consumption, chronic viral hepatitis, fat buildup in the liver, iron build-up in the body, and other medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, biliary atresia, and some genetic abnormalities.
Cirrhosis symptoms and signs are frequently delayed until the liver has suffered significant damage. Here are a few examples:
- Swelling of the legs, foot, and ankles
- Weight reduction
- Bruising and bleeding are frequent.
- Loss of appetite.
- The palms of the hands are a bright red colour.
- Abdominal fluid build-up with spider-like blood veins on the skin
- Skin that is itchy
- Yellowness of the skin and eyes
Renal failure, liver cancer, diabetes, and liver failure can all be caused by cirrhosis of the liver.
Myth 2: Fatty liver affects only alcoholics:
Whether you are addicted to alcohol or not, exceeding the recommended “safe limit” can put your health at risk by causing fatty liver.
Other factors might boost your risk of contracting the condition. A high-fat, high-sugar diet can have a major impact. If you are overweight or diabetic, you have a greater than 30% chance of developing fatty liver.
Other things to think about are:
- Your family has a history of fatty liver disease.
- It is possible to reduce weight in a short period of time.
- Taking steroid drugs on a regular basis is not a good idea.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver develops when the liver’s natural ability to break down fats fails, resulting in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or liver enlargement.
What is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and how does it affect you?
NASH is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in which the liver becomes inflamed (hepatitis) and fat destroys liver cells. People with one or more of the following diseases are more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH):
- High triglyceride or unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood
- Obesity is an issue, especially if you have a significant waist circumference.
- Too high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (liver swelling) symptoms include:
NASH is a disease that often goes undiagnosed due to its lack of symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may manifest as fatigue or stomach pain. If left untreated, NASH can progress to liver cirrhosis or cancer.
Myth 3: Hard liquor is more harmful than beer or wine in terms of health.
What matters is how much alcohol you consume, not what sort of alcohol you consume.
Myth 4: Fatty liver disease is an uncommon illness.
Unfortunately, fatty liver is getting more common all over the world. This might be related to poor eating habits, binge drinking culture, and a greater obesity rate.
About 25–30% of the general population has fatty liver, with about 15% of those suffering from the more severe variety, which can lead to cirrhosis and cancer.
Myth 5: Fatty liver disease is a chronic illness.
There is presently no effective treatment for fatty liver. However, by adopting precise lifestyle changes, you can reduce your chances of developing the condition or even cure it.
Fatty liver disease can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle and utilising natural therapies:
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.
- If you’re overweight or obese, consider limiting your daily calorie consumption and increasing your physical activity to lose weight.
- Alcohol is toxic to the liver and should be avoided at all costs.
- The amount of sugar consumed should be minimised.
- A well-balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats such as chicken and fish can greatly aid in illness management.
- Avoid fatty meals and opt for a plant-based diet to keep your cholesterol and triglycerides in balance.
Myth 6: Women are more likely than men to have fatty liver.
While it was previously considered that men and women were equally at risk, new evidence reveals that this is no longer the case.
If you’re concerned about your risk of fatty liver or want more lifestyle tips to keep your liver healthy, talk to a liver specialist.