Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) having its spiraling upward trend, is becoming a public health concern, especially in the period of a pandemic where obesity cases really climbed up according to online doctors.
The upsurge of food intake that might have been related to the easier access for fast foods, stress eating and lack of regular physical activities, parallel the increased in body mass index, which makes obesity and overweight more common across all ages, all races as well.
Across the world, its pooled prevalence is 25.24%, yet many are still accounted for since patients are usually asymptomatic in the early stage. If not given attention and proper management, this could progress to chronic liver disease such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and the worst scenario of liver cirrhosis wherein scar tissue replaces the normal liver cells.
We all have fats in our liver, in a small amount it’s still normal. However, if more than 5% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, it becomes a health problem. What symptoms do you need to watch out for? As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have particular physical symptoms that’s why diagnosis is supported by blood tests, liver ultrasound, or biopsy.
However, once it led to the end-stage or cirrhosis, symptoms such as fatigue, body weakness, loss of appetite, yellowish discoloration of skin and eyes, weight loss, easy bruising or bleeding, and swelling of the abdomen or legs can be experienced. NAFLD can be suspected in patients with Metabolic syndrome which is characterized by the following:
- Excess abdominal fat (≥88cm for women, ≥102cm for men)
- Elevated fasting plasma glucose level (≥100mg/dl)
- Hypertension or elevated blood pressure
- Low High-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (≤40mg/dl in men, ≤50mg/dl in women)
- Elevated bad cholesterol; triglycerides (≥150mg/dl)
Patients with the above conditions are at significant risk for a more severe degree of fatty inflammation (NASH) and liver cirrhosis.
There is no single therapy or easy and fast rule that could eliminate NAFLD. In fact, when scarring of liver tissues takes place, it is considered as irreversible. Hence, the elimination of causes and reduction of risk factors is the key to combating it.
A basic step to prevent and manage it by letting go of our sedentary lifestyles. Here are some health tips to take care of your liver:
- DIET. Choosing a healthy diet is very essential and there are foods considered to be liver-friendly. Increase your intake of fresh and green leafy vegetables, fruit, and high-fiber plants, and reduce consumption of added sugar, salt, trans fat, refined carbohydrates, white bread and rice, fried foods, and alcohol. A daily cup of coffee can be beneficial in lowering abnormal liver enzymes. Oatmeal as a source of fiber and fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines can lower bad cholesterol.
- EXERCISE AND BE MORE ACTIVE. Health-enhancing physical activity is defined as either vigorous activity at least 3 days/week, 30 minutes/day, or more days/week of any combination of walking, moderate, or vigorous activities. This is accompanied by strength and endurance training at least two to three times weekly.
- WEIGHT LOSS AND MAINTAINING A NORMAL BODY MASS INDEX. The normal BMI for Asians is 18-22.9. If you are overweight, you should target to lose at least 10% of your body weight. However, losing weight abruptly can actually worsen liver disease. It should be gradual, no more than a few pounds a week.
- CONTROL DIABETES AND LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL. Aside from a healthy lifestyle, your doctor may prescribe you oral hypoglycemic agents/insulin and medications that can lower your bad cholesterol.
- LOVE YOUR LIVER. Do not stress your liver by taking so many unnecessary medications. Follow the instructions on all medications and over-the-counter drugs. Check with your doctor before using any herbal remedies or alternative medications, as not all herbal products are proven safe.
If you want to know about your risk of having NAFLD or liver disease, book a telehealth consultation with Eva Teleconsult, and let’s talk about ways you can reduce your risk. We urge you, let’s take action and help beat the trend.