Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease( NAFLD): A Silent and Serious Epidemic

Fatty liver is a condition that is seen worldwide and is now the most common liver disorder in Western industrialized countries with a prevalence of more than 25%. It can be defined as the deposition of fat in the liver due to causes other than excessive alcohol use. What may increase your risk of developing fatty liver are risk factors like central obesity, type II diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. Patients can develop fat accumulation in the liver with or without inflammation and fibrosis (scarring).There are two different types of fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD), not associated with inflammation) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which associated with liver inflammation and scarring and tends to be more serious with possibly leading to cirrhosis.

Fatty liver can be managed and improved with making changes in our lifestyle and with weight loss. Most patients will have no symptoms at all while some patients with NASH may complain of fatigue, tiredness and vague pain in the right upper side of the abdomen. Most times patients are diagnosed with the presence of elevated liver enzymes and imaging of the abdomen.

How to manage fatty liver disease:

  • Avoid alcohol use ( especially heavy use)
  • Dieting, particularly a Mediterranean diet or Paleo diet has been shown to benefit fatty liver disease.
  • Aerobic exercise for 20 – 30 minutes, three times a week.
  • Weight loss of 5-10% has been shown to decrease liver inflammation and possibly reverse scarring of the liver.
  • There are current ongoing clinical trials for treatment options, but currently no FDA approved treatments available.