Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a general term for a range of conditions characterized by having excess fat deposits in your liver. As the name implies, this liver condition occurs in people who drink little to no alcohol. However, many other lifestyle factors contribute to its development. NAFLD is surprisingly common: by some estimates, 17-30% of adults have NAFLD.
NAFLD can be sneaky. Initially, you might not experience any symptoms. By the time it’s diagnosed, your liver may start to develop some inflammation, and you may be at risk to develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which, in turn, can lead to cirrhosis. That’s a big reason why it’s crucial to address NAFLD early.
The early signs of NAFLD can be subtle, and can often be ascribed to other things.
Common early symptoms include:
NAFLD is typically diagnosed through blood tests that assess liver function, or through an ultrasound or liver biopsy.
Unlike alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is directly tied to alcohol consumption, multiple factors can lead to NAFLD, and sometimes a direct cause can’t be determined. Some risk factors include:
To date, there is no conventional medication that effectively treats NAFLD. However, addressing the root causes not only heals your liver but provides other health benefits as well.
The following tips can help prevent NAFLD and minimize any further damage to your liver.
As you can see from the list of possible causes, excess weight greatly increases your risk of developing NAFLD. Of course, losing extra pounds is always easier said than done. It’s important to develop a realistic, healthy approach to losing weight that you can sustain for the long run.
Some initial research suggests that vitamin E helps protect the liver. Other supplements with promising results in studies include curcumin, vitamin D, omega-3, and berberine. As always, work with your healthcare practitioner to determine the right approach for you.
Focus on whole foods, including whole grains, lean protein, and fresh produce. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, and olive oil over heavily processed foods, has been proven to help with NAFLD. As well, try to eliminate sugar as much as possible. Reducing sugar is one of the most important steps to avoid NAFLD.
Gut bacteria play a powerful role in how your liver metabolizes fat. Maintain a healthy biome in your gut by eating high-fiber foods and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir, and supplementing with probiotics as needed.
In addition to helping with weight maintenance, exercise improves insulin resistance and fatty acid metabolism in your liver. A combination of steady-state cardio, weight training, and high-intensity intervals is ideal, but it’s important to develop a sustainable program that works for you.
As mentioned earlier, thyroid problems as well as PCOS are some of the risk factors in developing NAFLD. Maintaining balance in your hormones can help in reducing these risk factors. If you are looking for an easy way to see if you are having any hormonal imbalances, Organic Excellence At-Home Test Kits can help you. You can also bring back balance to your hormones through these natural hormone creams.
Take steps now to address your liver health!
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