Fatty Liver Disease: A Growing Epidemic

Millions of Indians are silently suffering from fatty liver disease, also referred to medically as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is a disease where the liver accumulates fat that is more than 5% of its total weight. NAFLD is not caused by alcohol consumption, in contrast to alcoholic liver disease.

It is especially concerning that NAFLD is becoming more common in India. Research indicates that rates in the general population may range from 9% to 53%, and they may even be greater in metropolitan areas. The increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and bad lifestyles is to blame for this increase.

Recognising NAFLD

Because the early stages of NAFLD rarely exhibit symptoms, they are frequently overlooked. But occasionally, people could feel exhausted, lose weight for no apparent reason, or have upper right abdominal pain. In order to stop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe variant of NAFLD, from developing, early identification is essential. Inflammation and destruction to the liver cells are hallmarks of NASH, which can result in cirrhosis and liver failure.

Preventive measures and risk factors

The following variables greatly increase the risk of NAFLD:

● Overweight: One of the main causes of NAFLD is obesity. Even a small weight loss might have a big impact on liver health.

● Diabetes: NAFLD is more common in those who have diabetes. Using medication, food, and exercise to control blood sugar levels is essential.

● Metabolic syndrome: This group of illnesses raises the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

● Unhealthy diet: NAFLD is exacerbated by consuming large amounts of sugar-filled beverages, processed carbs, and harmful fats like trans and saturated fats.

● Physical inactivity: Maintaining a healthy weight and enhancing insulin sensitivity require regular exercise.

Changes in Lifestyle for a Healthier Liver

Thankfully, NAFLD is frequently curable with a change in lifestyle. The following useful advice can be used to support liver health:

● Adopt a well-balanced diet: Give special attention to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, and legumes. Minimise sugar-filled beverages, processed foods, and harmful fats. Select unsaturated fats, such as those in nuts, avocados, and seafood.

● Make weight management a priority: With food changes and exercise, try to lose weight gradually and sustainably. To receive individualised advice on calorie consumption, portion control, and developing a safe and successful weight loss strategy, speak with a physician or certified dietitian.

● Boost your physical activity level by doing regular exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, such as brisk walking or cycling. To make exercising sustainable, find things you enjoy doing, like swimming or dancing.

Early Identification and Handling

Even though NAFLD frequently exhibits no symptoms, routine medical examinations are crucial. Liver function problems can be identified by blood testing. Additional testing, including as ultrasounds or imaging methods, might be suggested if NAFLD is suspected. Timely intervention and therapy can avert consequences such as liver failure and cirrhosis by enabling early identification.

Although NAFLD is on the rise in India, it is frequently avoidable and treatable. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes managing your weight, eating a balanced food, and getting regular exercise will help you lower your risk and protect your liver health. Remember that early detection is essential. Make an appointment for routine checks with your physician and address any worries you may have. By banding together, we can put an end to this silent pandemic and advance everyone’s liver health.

Authored by Dr. Sonal Asthana, Lead Consultant – HPB & Liver Transplant Surgery, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore

 

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