What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is an example of an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic health concern that is being discovered in “healthy” Health Nucleus clients.
What is it?
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in the Western nations.
- NAFLD is the presence of increased accumulation of fat in the liver. NAFLD is a term that covers a range of liver conditions that happens in people who only drink small amounts of alcohol or not at all.
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is a serious form of the disease that causes liver inflammation that could lead to scarring.
How does it happen?
- There are many conditions that are linked to elevated liver fat including insulin resistance, obesity, type II diabetes, high triglycerides, rapid weight loss and sleep apnea.
- There is a strong correlation between NAFLD and insulin resistance (poor blood sugar control) due to increased breakdown of fats (lipolysis), triglyceride synthesis, increased liver uptake of free fatty acids and build-up of liver triglycerides.
What are possible symptoms?
- Elevated liver fat usually doesn’t cause any symptoms.
- Pain in the liver located in the upper right abdomen
- In advanced stage (cirrhosis), abdominal swelling, yellowing (jaundice) of the eyes and skin
Patients with the following conditions are at higher risk.
- Elevated cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance or diabetes
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Diet high in excess calories
- Rapid weight loss
- Liver cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury as the liver tries to stop inflammation, this causes areas of scarring called fibrosis
- Liver failure
- There are associations with liver cancer
What are possible treatments?
- Treatment is geared toward lowering risk factors such as losing weight, controlling diabetes and blood sugar, along with cholesterol control.
- Healthy Diet
- Reducing alcohol intake
Where can I get more information?
For additional information, please seek further guidance from your primary care provider or gastroenterologist.
Mayo Clinic (2018). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567
Tendler, D.A. (2018) Pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In K.D. Lindor & K.M. Robson (Eds.) UptoDate Available from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathogenesis-of-nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease?source=see_link#H13
Wedro. B. (2018). Fatty Liver. In B. Anand (Eds.), https://www.emedicinehealth.com/fatty_liver_disease/article_em.htm#fatty_liver_disease_facts