Fatty Liver – Symptoms, Causes, Diet and Treatment

Overview of The Fatty Liver

Fatty liver disease (FLD) is defined as a condition in which there is an excess of fat accumulated in liver cells in unusual amounts. The liver usually has its own fat coating that acts as a protective barrier but when more than required fat is obtained from an individual’s diet, it starts to increase this fat layer and this is how problem starts.

Healthy vs fatty liver

The fatty liver disease is usually thought to be a condition with heavy alcohol consumption. But it can also develop among others depending upon certain factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, starvation, unhealthy lifestyle, etc.

There are mainly 2 types of fatty liver disease – Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

NAFLD is further classified as Isolated fatty liver (IFL) and Non Alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In both of the cases the abnormal quantity of fat is accumulated in liver but in case of NASH, there is also an inflammation of the liver.

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. Prevention
  4. Home Remedies
  5. Treatment Options
  6. Bottomline
  7. Patients Queries
  8. Reference

Symptoms

  • Physical weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Poor appetite
  • Sudden Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Trouble concentrating

Symptoms in case of a severe liver disease such as cirrhosis include:

  • Liver failure
  • Bleeding inside your body
  • Wasting of your muscles
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Red palms
  • Enlarged breasts in men
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged spleen

Causes

  • Overweight/obese
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess of Iron intake
  • Old age
  • Starvation
  • Malnutrition
  • Lipodystrophy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Intravenous nutrition
  • Abetalipoproteinemia
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Certain medications

Prevention

  • Exercise Regularly
  • Try meditation
  • Maintain healthy weight ( if overweight/obese increase your physical activity in order to lose weight)
  • Healthy and balanced diet (include more fruits, vegetables, and grains in your diet)
  • Lower your cholesterol (especially triglycerides)
  • Avoid unhealthy fat (deep fried foods, processed foods, etc)
  • Avoid alcohol consumption (alcohol may put extra stress on liver)
  • Try to control your diabetes (closely monitor your blood sugar)
  • Protect your avoid (avoid things that put stress on liver)
  • Consult your doctor before using any medications or herbal remedies.

Home Remedies

Lemon

Lemon has antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties and is the rich source of vitamin C. It helps to detoxify the liver and also helps to ease liver inflammation.

  • Squeeze juice of a fresh lemon into a glass of water; drink it twice or thrice daily for best results.
  • Another way is to extract juices from few lemons and store it. When needed add ½ tsp of lemon juice to a glass of lukewarm water and drink it daily for few days.

Green Tea

Green tea contains powerful antioxidants (catechins) which help to remove toxins from the body, reduce body weight and fat percentage. It helps to improve the functioning of the liver. It should be consumed daily to clean entire body system. For best results drink about 2-3 cups of green tea daily at regular intervals.

Turmeric

Turmeric has one of the best natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which is very effective in the treatment of fatty liver. It is a natural liver cleansing agent and improves the ability of the body to digest fats properly so that the liver will not accumulate any fat.

  • Mix 1 tsp of turmeric in a glass of milk, boil it and drink it once for better results.
  • You can also add a half teaspoon of turmeric to a cup of boiling water; let it simmer for few minutes. Drink it once or twice daily for few days.
  • It can also be used in cooking to enjoy different health benefits.

Treatment Options

Treatment of fatty liver disease depends upon its causes. There is no specific treatment for fatty. Other treatments include avoiding alcohol, quit smoking, exercise regularly, lose weight, manage cholesterol, control blood sugar, few medications, surgery, etc.

Lifestyle changes

If you are overweight/obese try to lose weight with the help of regular exercise. Increase physical activity and try to avoid certain foods from your diet. Eat healthy and balanced diet that rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Follow low sugar and low salt diet. Decrease your cholesterol level with the help of few exercises and meditation. Try to control your blood sugar level. Foods high in fat such as red meat and dairy products should be avoided. All type of processed food should be avoided.

These lifestyle changes are very helpful to treat fatty liver in certain conditions. But in case of fatty liver associated with high blood sugar levels, obesity, high cholesterol may require certain medications and in severe cases even surgery.

Medications

Insulin Sensitizers – Metformin (Glucophage) is antidiabetic medicine used for the treatment of diabetes. It helps to control blood sugar in many ways. It decreases the amount of sugar created by the liver and also lowers the amount of sugar absorbed by the intestine. But it is not clear whether it improves the liver injury or not; associated with NASH. Pioglitazone and Rosiglitazone both are an antidiabetic drug used for the treatment of diabetes because they increase insulin sensitivity and reduce liver fat. Both of these medicines have side effect; weight gain from pioglitazone and increase in heart attack from rosiglitazone.

Antioxidant: Antioxidants may prevent liver damage caused by oxidation and helps to reduce NAFLD progression. Vitamin E may reduce liver fat and inflammation and most probably fibrosis also. Vitamin E supplementation helps to prevent worsening of NAFLD. But discuss its safety and long-term effectiveness with a doctor before using this treatment.

Omega 3 fatty acids: In the case of NAFLD, omega 3 fatty acids have shown some benefit in reducing liver fat. Omega 3 supplements are very effective in cardiovascular disease prevention and therapy. It is considered to be an appropriate treatment for patients with NAFLD and metabolic syndrome.

Surgical Options

Liver Transplantation: Obesity and diabetes continue to be the underlying cause of fatty liver. When the condition of the liver is severe or it becomes cirrhotic, only treatment option is to replace the diseased liver transplanted liver.

Bariatric Surgery: Obesity is one of the primary causes of fatty liver, bariatric surgery is considered to be a potential treatment for NAFLD. It is the surgery of gastrointestinal tract to result in weight loss. This surgery is not recommended to be used as a treatment for NASH.

Bottomline

In most of the cases, fatty liver doesn’t turn into any liver disease. The liver has the ability to repair itself with the help of few steps such as maintaining blood sugar level, maintain a healthy weight, maintain your cholesterol level, stop drinking, etc. After these few remedies, if fatty liver persists longer then it can progress to liver disease and cirrhosis. In this case, consult your doctor immediately and continue the suggested treatment.

Patients Queries

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