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Fatty liver: Medicine or Lifestyle Medicine?

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Fatty Liver is a condition where fat deposits build up inside the liver to derange its function.

It can be of two types:

  1. Alcoholic fatty Liver

  2. Non-alcoholic fatty Liver disease (NAFLD) ,currently also referred to as MAFLD (Metabolic associated fatty liver disease)

Alcoholic fatty liver is usually caused by years of heavy drinking and the best treatment for Alcoholic fatty liver disease is to STOP ALCOHOL, which may prevent the progress, but a reversal is difficult.

In this article, however, I will only discuss NAFLD.

NAFLD includes a range of conditions involving an accumulation of fat in the liver without a primary cause, including alcohol. It progresses through the stages of simple fatty liver(steatosis), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and ultimately Liver failure.

Are you at risk?

While there is no single cause of NAFLD, certain risk factors are known to predispose an individual to NAFLD.

  1. Older age

  2. Obesity, especially abdominal obesity

  3. Insulin resistance, as seen with diabetes and obesity

  4. Raised lipid levels, especially triglycerides

  5. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

  6. Family history

  7. Certain medications

  8. Other causes

Do you have a Fatty Liver?

Fatty liver is usually asymptomatic in the initial stages. Non-specific symptoms like bloating, indigestion, burping, fatigue, malaise, or tenderness of the right upper abdomen are sometimes reported. Usually, it is an incidental finding in an ultrasound of the abdomen. The doctor will also ask for some blood tests before making a diagnosis.

Routine visits to the doctor can help with an early diagnosis.

What now?

It is not possible to reverse fibrosis or cirrhosis, but the early stages of Fatty Liver are almost completely reversible with lifestyle modifications!! So, really, it's up to you, what you want to do with your risk/diagnosis.


Lifestyle Medicine in NAFLD:

Lifestyle modifications are the first line of treatment for NAFLD. Lifestyle Medicine is an upcoming branch of Medicine that deals with the management of chronic disease with Lifestyle modifications. If you have been diagnosed with a Fatty Liver, or have any of the known risk factors, you must consider making healthy changes to your lifestyle.

Image by vectorgraphit on Freepik

1.Weight Loss:

Losing as little as 5% of the original weight can have immense benefits to manage NAFLD. However, a loss of 10% or more provides the greatest benefit.

2. Exercise:

Exercise is beneficial even without weight loss as it reduces intrahepatic fat irrespective of weight loss. Include aerobic exercises as well as strength training in your routine.

3. Dietary considerations

  • Limit fat consumption: Though we all need some amount of healthy fat,most sources of fat contain a mix of both healthy(polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat) and unhealthy(saturated) sat.

  • Avoid saturated fats. Replace saturated fats (butter, ghee, cheese, coconut oil) with polyunsaturated (PUFA)and monounsaturated (MUFA) fats like soyabean oil, olive oil, walnuts, and almonds in small amounts.PUFAs and MUFAs are known to reduce liver fat content.

  • Avoid cooking in oil as far as possible: Many health benefits of healthy oils like olive oil and sesame oil are reduced when they are heated. These oils are best added at the end of the cooking.

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates as in white rice, white bread, bakery items, etc. Replace with whole grains.

  • Increase intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These should constitute your main diet as their benefits go way beyond Liver health.

  • Include foods rich in pre and probiotics in your diet, in small quantities e.g Curd, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickled vegetables, carrot kanji, and Kombucha. These foods help to reduce intestinal dysbiosis which can reduce the progression of the disease.

4. Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol worsens a fatty liver, especially in obese individuals

5. Supplements and medications may be useful along with lifestyle modifications and these are prescribed on a case-to-case basis by a doctor.

So really, it's Lifestyle Medicine to your rescue....... NOT Medicine.

Call us today at 8851420874 for help with screening and managing Fatty Liver.

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3 comentarios

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10 feb 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Very nicely explained. Motivation for one and all for having healthy lifestyle

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03 feb 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Very well explained. Does motivate one to start doing something about it. Often when usg reports fatty liver we tend to ignore it . That‘s not to be done. Work starts there

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03 feb 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

a lucid explanation indeed

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