Fatty Liver Causes, Types and Prevention
Fatty liver is very common in India reflecting the number of people who are obese or overweight. Available data suggests NAFLD affects upto 16.32% of people in India.
Fatty liver is also known as hepatic steatosis. It happens when fat builds up in the liver. Having small amounts of fat in liver is normal, but too much can become a health problem.
1. Causes of fatty liver
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when fat builds up in the liver of people who don’t drink a lot of alcohol.If there is excess fat in liver and no history of heavy alcohol use, then it could be NAFLD.If there’s no inflammation or other complications along with the build-up of fat, the condition is known as simple nonalcoholic fatty liver.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) is a rare but serious complication of pregnancy. The exact cause is unknown. When AFLP develops, it usually appears in the third trimester of pregnancy. If left untreated, it poses serious health risks to the mother and growing baby.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease (ALFD)
Alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) is a type of AFLD. It happens when a build-up of excess fat in the liver is accompanied by liver inflammation. This is also known as alcoholic hepatitis.If it’s not treated properly, ASH can cause cirrhosis, and subsequently liver failure.
3. Stages of Fatty Liver
Fatty liver can progress through four stages:
- .There is a build-up of excess fat in the liver.
- . In addition to excess fat, there is inflammation in the liver.
- . Inflammation in the liver has caused scarring.
- . Scarring of the liver has become widespread.
4.Symptoms of fatty liver
Fatty liver can be diagnosed by medical history – family medical history, including any history of liver disease/ alcohol consumption and other lifestyle habits/any other medical conditions/ medications intake.; physical exam; blood tests such as LFTs ; Imaging studies like ultrasound exam, CT scan, MRI scan., FibroScan .
6. Treatment of fatty liver
Diet should be rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.. Consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, white rice, white bread, other refined grain products as well as, saturated fats, found in red meat and many other animal products should be limited.
To prevent fatty liver and its potential complications, it’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet that’s low in saturated fats, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates.
- Take steps to control blood sugar, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol levels.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
In many cases, it’s possible to reverse fatty liver through lifestyle changes. These changes may help prevent liver damage and scarring.
Dr. Anurag Tandon
Head Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Metro Hospitals and Heart Institute (Multi Specialty Wing) Sec 11 Noida