It’s not hard to guess that with around 62% of Americans being overweight that our livers might be gaining weight too. Fatty liver is a medical condition that occurs when fat accumulates and deposits inside and around the liver. This causes some pretty severe problems, especially if it goes undiagnosed.
In the beginning stages of fatty liver, the inflammation that occurs with extra fat globules can lead to something called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is when extra fat deposits in the liver and leads to damage similar to that a person consuming large amounts of alcohol for a long period of time would display. NAFLD is becoming more and more common in young children, with 32% of kids being overweight and 16% are medically obese, putting them at a higher risk for fatty liver disease too.
Eventually, this extra fat leads to inflammation and scarring of the liver, which can progress into a serious condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). When your liver is scarred, it can no longer function normally. In severe cases, this can progress to cirrhosis of the liver, and can even cause liver failure.
What Causes Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver is closely linked with large intakes of fructose, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. It also occurs when a person gains weight primarily in the abdominal area. This often happens in women who are going through the hormonal changes associated with menopause, or in individuals who are insulin resistant or pre-diabetic. Insulin resistance is a metabolic state where the body readily stores fat tissue, primarily in the abdomen. This type of metabolic state makes it very difficult to lose weight, and very easy to gain weight.
Testing for Fatty Liver
While liver enzyme tests or fatty infiltration (on ultrasound or MRI) tests can help doctors discover whether or not fatty liver is present, the gold standard for testing for fatty liver disease is a biopsy of liver tissue.
The best way to help adults, as well as children, correct and prevent fatty liver is with lifestyle changes including a diet that helps to reverse insulin resistance, losing weight to abdominal fat, as well as healthy exercise. When losing weight with fatty liver disease, it is best to strive for slow, gradual weight loss, so that the liver is not bombarded with another load of metabolizing fat tissue in its handicapped state.
At Cederquist Medical Wellness Center, we provide a customized approached to individuals who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and have helped them lose belly weight, improve their liver function tests, and better their health parameters in a variety of ways.
To learn more, please call our office at 239-494-6159.