Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) wasn’t even on our radar screen 30 years ago. Today, it affects as many as 1/3 of Americans and is the leading form of liver disease in the United States.

Worse yet, it shows no signs of slowing down and threatens to overwhelm liver transplant programs in the coming decade.

According to Dr. Michael Curry, a hepatologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, about 80% of people with non alcoholic fatty liver disease will not develop a significant form of liver disease. In the other 20%, the condition will progress to non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and about 20-30% of NASH patients will progress to liver cirrhosis and end stage liver disease.

In the United States that means as many as 6 million people could be looking for liver transplants in the near future.

The fatty liver epidemic is a silent, but very real threat to the health of many Americans and one Dr. Curry believes could overwhelm liver transplant programs and create a situation where we’re simply unable to treat so many patients.

But non alcoholic fatty liver disease isn’t just an American problem. Recent reports out of England, Malaysia, and other countries show similar signs that fatty liver could quickly become a worldwide epidemic.

Let’s take a closer look at the disease.

What is non alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Doctors and medical professionals once believed fatty infiltration of the liver leading to liver damage and liver cirrhosis was caused by excessive alcohol consumption. They termed this condition alcoholic fatty liver disease.

While it’s true excessive alcohol consumption CAN and DOES cause liver damage, doctors soon realized there was something else going on when they started seeing patients with the same signs of liver damage, but who had no history of alcoholism. This condition soon became known as non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Put simply, non alcoholic fatty liver disease is the accumulation of fat (triglycerides) in liver cells due to non-alcohol related causes that can eventually lead to liver inflammation, liver scarring, liver cancer, complete liver failure, and death.

Some of the contributing factors to fatty liver disease include obesity, type II diabetes (diabetes mellitus), metabolic syndrome, high fat, high fructose, and high glycemic diets coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, medications and toxins, and insulin resistance.

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease generally progresses through the following stages:

  • Simple steatosis (fatty liver)
  • Fatty liver with inflammation (non alcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH)
  • Fatty liver with liver hardening and liver scarring (liver cirrhosis)
  • Liver cancer and/or complete liver failure
  • Death unless a liver transplant is performed

When too much fat accumulates in the liver, it clogs the spaces surrounding hepatocytes (liver cells), causes the liver to become larger and heavier, impairs the livers ability to filter toxins and other harmful substances from the blood, and reduces its ability to metabolize fats.

The earliest stage of fatty liver disease, simple steatosis, is usually easily reversed by dietary and lifestyle changes. However, as liver damage becomes more severe, it can lead to cell death and scarring (liver cirrhosis), at which point it often becomes irreversible and requires a liver transplant to save the life of the patient.

Why is non alcoholic fatty liver disease so dangerous?

Fatty liver disease is closely associated with obesity and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. This means it’s a very real threat for almost everyone.

The disease is so dangerous because it is what the National Institutes of Health refers to as a “silent disease”. Non alcoholic fatty liver disease develops over a long period of time, but many people experience few, if any, symptoms until the condition worsens to non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or cirrhosis.

Some people may experience a dull or aching pain on the right side of their abdomen, but most don’t. This pain is generally associated with the liver growing larger due to inflammation and stretching the lining of the liver or pressing against other organs. Other fatty liver symptoms include a swollen stomach or ankles, vomiting blood, general fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and jaundice.

Since the condition has few symptoms, it sneaks up on you and many people fail to seek fatty liver disease treatment early on when the condition is often reversible through a proper fatty liver diet and exercise.

The Fatty Liver Diet Guide can show you exactly which foods to eat and which to avoid if you have a fatty liver and provides precise fatty liver diet plans and even fatty liver diet recipes for those who want to be proactive at slowing and reversing the condition before it becomes untreatable.

To make matters worse, doctors can easily miss the disease even with the help of ultrasounds and CT scans, and even tests for elevated liver enzymes in the bloodstream aren’t 100% reliable. Many times the disease is first noticed during routine checkups or during blood tests for other conditions. A liver biopsy is the best way to get a definitive diagnosis.

Annual checkups with your doctor are important to help increase the chance a fatty liver is caught early.

If left untreated, NAFLD can bring about much more severe symptoms including brain changes (hepatic encephalopathy) that result from harmful toxins reaching the brain. A healthy liver filters these toxins from the blood so they never reach the brain. A damaged liver is unable to do so which can result in things like memory lapses, trouble sleeping, lack of coordination and balance, and damage to other organs of the body.

These more severe fatty liver disease symptoms can often be rather alarming. For example, hepatologists such as Dr. Kevin Mullen from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Dr. Michael Curry from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston report seeing patients who have:

  • Exhibited symptoms very similar to Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Mistakenly put their laundry in the refrigerator
  • Forgotten events that just took place the same day
  • Found themselves in a scalding hot shower and forgot how to turn it off
  • Walked around the neighborhood naked

Although seldom talked about, the liver performs over 500 known functions and is a bigger workhorse than even the heart. Thus, maintaining liver health should be a primary concern for everyone. Failing to do so is a true death sentence.

Who is at risk of getting non alcoholic fatty liver disease?

The short answer to this question is: everyone.

Fatty liver disease can affect men, women, and children of all ages and nationalities. It is most commonly found in people who suffer from type II diabetes and those who are overweight and/or obese (particularly around the mid section).

A recent study out of England suggests as many as 500,000 children between the ages of 4 and 14 in that country could be at risk of developing life-threatening liver disease in the future due to being overweight. A poor diet coupled with a lack of exercise are the leading culprits.

Some experts believe non alcoholic fatty liver disease will become a silent killer for this generation of children if the obesity epidemic is not kept under control. Most experts also agree that the biggest risk factor to developing non alcoholic fatty liver disease is being overweight. This is true for both children and adults.

How to treat non alcoholic fatty liver disease

Currently there is no single fatty liver treatment for ridding the body of non alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, if you suffer from a fatty liver or feel you are at risk of developing fatty liver disease, then here are a few guidelines you should follow to help prevent and reverse the condition:

  • Lose weight gradually and keep it off long-term. Stay away from fad diet programs that recommend starvation diets or extreme gastric bypass surgeries that can actually further exasperate a fatty liver. Instead, try programs like Fat Loss Factor and Paleo Burn to target fat in your mid section.
  • Stay active and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Recent studies show resistance exercises can help improve a fatty liver and may be easier for people who are overweight and/or obese because they put less demand on the cardio-respiratory system.
  • Make dietary changes that limit fat consumption to less than 30% of the daily caloric intake. Be cautious of generalized diet advice such as “eat more fruits and vegetables” as some fruits (particularly those containing large amounts of fructose) can be harmful for people with non alcoholic fatty liver disease. See the Fatty Liver Diet Guide and Fatty Liver Bible for specific diet plans and foods that can be used to reduce liver fat and improve fatty liver disease.
  • Smaller, frequent meals are often better than large feasts for fatty liver patients.
  • Antioxidants such as silymarin (found in milk thistle) and vitamins C and E can help improve liver health when taken in the right ratios and dosages.
  • Don’t miss annual health checkups and stay in touch with your doctor on a regular basis. These are important for catching fatty liver disease early and giving you the best chance of beating the disease before it progresses to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Reduce strain on the liver by treating related conditions such as type II diabetes and hypertension.
  • Most importantly, if you’re overweight chances are you already have a fatty liver or will develop a fatty liver in the near future. Be proactive in treating non alcoholic fatty liver disease early on and don’t wait for it to worsen before you take action. By then it may already be too late.

Although there is no cure-all fatty liver treatment currently available for liver patients, there are certain things you can do right now to help slow and reverse non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Click here for a complete guide to combating and reversing fatty liver disease.

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is no joke and is the leading cause of liver ailments in the United States, affecting approximately 2 to 5 percent of the population. Some experts suggest your chances of developing fatty liver may skyrocket to 1 in 3 over the next two decades.

This potentially life threatening disease that causes fatty infiltration of the liver and inflammation which can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer has doubled in the last 20 years and continues to rise year after year. It has close ties with obesity and diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), and a recent study published by Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity suggests approximately 70 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also suffer from a fatty liver.

It was originally believed that excessive alcohol was the main factor contributing to fatty liver disease. This is still the case with alcoholic fatty liver disease where the excessive consumption of alcohol can cause massive liver damage and can lead to complete liver failure.

However, doctors soon realized that many patients who didn’t drink were developing the same liver problems and were experiencing the same fatty liver symptoms as those who did. These cases became diagnosed as non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Since alcohol consumption isn’t the problem with non alcoholic fatty liver disease, what is?

As is the case with many other ailments and diseases, eating too much and exercising too little are the main culprits, but it is likely there is a complex interplay of factors related to metabolic syndrome at work in most patients. The combination of eating too much and exercising too little is deadly at increasing weight and waist size, and having excess belly fat increases your chance of fatty liver by as much as 90%.

As fatty infiltration of the liver continues over time, the liver becomes larger and heavier. Eventually inflammation and scarring occurs and parts of the liver start to die. Once this happens the liver is no longer able to efficiently perform the vital tasks that are necessary for humans to survive.

Matters are made worse because a fatty liver usually isn’t painful in its early stages and a person may not experience any fatty liver symptoms early on, so early diagnosis and treatment is often missed.

So what can be done to treat a fatty liver?

Here are 5 fatty liver treatment tips that can help you take control of fatty liver disease.

1.) Lose Weight

fatty liver weight lossYour biggest ally in warding off fatty liver disease is to lose weight through a combination of diet and exercise. But you have to lose weight in the right way. Dorothy Spencer’s, Fatty Liver Diet Guide can help you every step of the way by providing you with fatty liver diet plans and fatty liver diet guidelines to follow.

Rapid weight loss is not recommended as it can actually shock the body into starvation mode which leads to even greater fat storage. Slowly losing just 10% of your body weight (30 pounds if you currently weigh 300 pounds) can greatly improve fatty liver and is the weight loss target set by the American Gastroenterological Association.

As further proof to the effectiveness of losing weight in improving liver function and warding off fatty liver disease, a study published by the journal, Hepatology, found participants who lost at least 5% of their body weight saw significant reductions in liver fat and were less insulin resistant than those who didn’t. Those who lost at least 9% saw existing liver damage actually reverse.

Scientific evidence continues to pile up which suggests fatty liver disease can be improved by losing weight and exercising on a regular basis. A couple of excellent programs exist that can help you reach your weight loss goals. These are The Fat Loss Factor and Paleo Burn that focuses more specifically on losing belly fat which is a common problem for most fatty liver patients.

Click here to watch a short video with some tips for losing the stubborn belly fat that plagues many people with fatty liver disease.

2.) Eat The Right Foods

Losing weight and exercising go hand and hand with eating the right fatty liver diet.

Eating the right foods is critically important for people with non alcoholic fatty liver disease, but a healthy diet will also improve many other aspects of your health. If possible, try to stay away from high-glycemic and easily digested carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread, and many candies and breakfast cereals as these have been shown to increase the amount of fat occurring in the liver and bloodstream.

fatty liver diet foodsIf you have a fatty liver, increase your fiber and replace foods high in saturated fats with lean proteins. Also, keep in mind that saying something general like, “Eat more fruits and vegetables” doesn’t always apply to fatty liver patients.

As a general rule, eating more fruits and vegetables is a healthy choice, but as Debra Elkin points out in her guide to fatty liver disease, The Fatty Liver Bible, it’s more about eating the right fruits and vegetables that will make the difference.

As she points out, some fruits (especially those high in fructose) can actually make fatty liver disease worse. Her guide contains a large and well laid out list of foods that should be used as part of a fatty liver treatment plan along with foods fatty liver disease patients should avoid as much as possible.

3.) Emerging Evidence Suggests Not All Alcohol Is Bad

A long held belief in liver health is that all alcohol is bad. After all, it can lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease. But new studies have shown consuming light to moderate amounts of wine as part of a fatty liver treatment can actually improve non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

A study by the University of California-San Diego found drinking one glass of wine per day cut the risk of liver disease in half when compared to drinking no alcohol at all. However, beer and liquor had the opposite effect and actually multiplied the risk of developing fatty liver disease by 4 times.

A similar study conducted on 9,885 men in Japan found “those who had around three or four alcoholic drinks spread over 21 days in a month had the lowest risk of all.” The study concluded that frequent, but moderate alcohol consumption could reduce the risk of fatty liver by as much as 60%. Again, the key is moderation.

Obesity, and not alcohol, continues to be the primary concern for fatty liver patients.

4.) Alternative Fatty Liver Treatments May Not Be Your Best Bet

Research continues to search for the best fatty liver treatment, but many findings are contradictory at best. Vitamin C and E, silymarin, selenium, Epsom salts, betaine, and various different diabetes medicines are all currently being researched as possible fatty liver treatments. However, for every study that suggests they are effective at treating non alcoholic fatty liver disease, there is another study that shows contradictory findings.

Until we have more definitive answers from ongoing research, losing weight through a fatty liver diet plan and exercise remains the best option for treating a fatty liver.

5.) Give Your Body A Break By Controlling Other Conditions Associated With Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease has close ties with many other medical conditions. Among these are:

  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Hypertension
  • Insulin Resistance
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes

Seeking medical help for some of the above conditions can help relieve some of the stress your liver experiences when you have a fatty liver. Controlling these conditions can actually act as a round-a-bout fatty liver treatment.

Diet and exercise can help control things like obesity and high cholesterol, and there are even programs like The Diabetes Reversing Breakthrough that can help you control insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can be brought under control with the help of the High Blood Pressure Remedy Report.

Fatty Liver And Obesity – Cause For Concern If You’re Overweight?

fatty liver and obesityThe terms fatty liver and fatty liver disease (FLD) are often used interchangeably. However, technically speaking, fatty liver disease is a broad term that describes many different liver conditions including fatty liver (steatosis), non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and cirrhosis.

What Is A Fatty Liver?

Fatty liver refers to the accumulation of fat in the liver. A healthy liver breaks down fats in the body. However, when certain conditions persist, more fat moves into the liver than out of it and a fatty liver occurs. Over time, fatty liver can become a silent killer.

To help fight the disease and promote weight loss, Dr. Charles Livingston of Fishers, Indiana designed the Fat Loss Factor to help heal your liver so it can burn body fat the way it’s designed to, all while allowing you to keep eating most of the foods you love.

As fatty infiltration of the liver worsens, NASH develops which refers to a fatty liver that causes inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation leads to liver scarring which is largely irreversible and is known as liver cirrhosis. Eventually liver cancer can develop, resulting in complete liver failure and death.

FLD is generally broken down into two types: non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFL). The principle difference is NAFLD is caused by factors unrelated to alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is the sole cause of AFL.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the United States, affecting nearly 30 million people. Approximately 25% of the world’s population is also affected by the disease. It is believed that over 6 million Americans have a fatty liver that has advanced at least as far as NASH (fatty liver with inflammation). If that isn’t scary enough, the disease is also showing up more and more often in children. Read the rest of this entry