You may not have heard of fatty liver diseases, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to be specific. But chances are, you know someone who has it.
As a dietitian in private practice, it’s becoming increasingly common for me to tailor diets for clients who’ve been diagnosed with a build-up of fat in their liver.
If your doctor has told you that you have a fatty liver, take action to reverse it. If left untreated, the condition can be more harmful than you think.
Fatty liver diseases?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a progressive disease that develops in people who drink little or no alcohol.
It begins with its mildest form, simple fatty liver, an accumulation of fat in liver cells that, by itself, usually doesn’t lead to liver damage.
However, a liver infiltrated with fat is more susceptible to further injury.
NAFLD can progress over time to a more severe form called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is fatty liver accompanied by inflammation and death of liver cells. (Steato means fat and hepatitis means liver inflammation.)
About 15 per cent of people with NAFLD will go on to develop irreversible advanced liver scarring called cirrhosis, which makes it difficult for the liver to carry out its essential tasks.
So who is most likely to become an alcoholic drinker?
Psychological studies show that those who are dependent on alcohol are people who can’t say no to an extra drink, or the first drink at all. Here’s a list of people who are most likely to become dependent on it:
- Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 The statistic of those in this age range who binge drink – a habit that can easily lead to fatty liver disease – is as high as 41%.
- Those who tend to be impulsive: Someone who is impulsive will tend to try something on a whim. If friends are encouraging a person to drink all day at a get-together, someone who is impulsive might be more apt to do exactly that. He or she may be in a home situation where feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, frustration and being trapped have been coming up recently, making an impulsive person even more impulsive.
- Those who are influenced by a peer group: Those who are influenced by friends are less apt to stand up for what they believe when the peer pressure is applied.
- Those whose parents drank while they observed the behavior: Watching a parent drink and treat family members poorly is nothing that a child wants to watch. A child can make a decision to never be like the offending parent but then later in life, finds himself or herself walking in the parent’s footsteps. Counseling helps a lot in these cases.
- Those who have had a previous history of drug abuse, and are going through a rough time in their life: Stress brings out the worst in us. A previous history of abusing drugs or alcohol can be ‘relived’ when times get hard, making a person turn to alcohol.
- Those who received accolades for drinking large amounts of alcohol: Getting praised by one’s friends and talked about as if “you’re the man” is a good feeling. But when that feeling is associated with alcohol, it starts a neural pathway in the brain that links happiness with alcohol. This link has to be broken if you are going to give up alcohol, something that is essential to reverse fatty liver. Replacing the happiness with a disgusted feeling (such as imagining maggots in the alcoholic drinks) is an old trick that psychologists and hypnotherapists use to break bad habits.
If you recognize that you could be at risk to develop fatty liver disease as a result of your personal drinking habits, the best choice of health practitioner to see is a psychologist.
How do you know if you have a fatty liver?
Fatty liver rarely causes symptoms. When it does, symptoms are vague and may include right-sided abdominal pain, fatigue and/or a general feeling of unwellness.
NAFLD is usually detected when routine blood tests show elevated liver enzyme levels. It can also be discovered by an ultrasound examination of the abdomen.
How can you get rid of a fatty liver?
Lifestyle modification is the cornerstone to treating – and preventing – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gradual weight loss, dietary modification and exercise are required to effectively remove fat deposits in the liver.
Originally posted 2019-06-01 22:45:44.