Unlike the stomach, intestines, heart, or lungs, few individuals understand what the liver accomplishes. Do you think so?
The best analogy for your liver is that of a factory. It manages everything from manufacture and processing to storage and disposal, performing over 500 critical operations and initiating thousands of chemical reactions daily. One of its primary roles is transforming the nutrients in our meals into energy, resulting in the production of proteins and antibodies that our bodies require. As if it weren’t enough, the liver also stores these compounds until your body is ready to use them. So, let’s debunk some of the fallacies about fatty liver disease.
Myth 1: Fatty liver isn’t a cause for concern:
Fatty liver refers to a build-up of fat in the liver, as the term implies (anything over 5 percent of the total organ size).
Many people with fatty liver are completely unaware of their illness. That isn’t to say you should disregard it. Fatty liver can put you at risk for more serious illnesses like cirrhosis (liver scarringand even liver cancer. It can also produce no complications at all. Why? This is because a build-up of fat in your liver destroys the cells and creates inflammation. The only organ in your body that can regenerate by replacing old, damaged cells with new ones is your liver. Scar tissue forms as your liver tries to get rid of the fat, making it difficult to carry nutrients around the body and increasing pressure in the veins around it.
Chronic alcohol misuse, chronic viral hepatitis, fat accumulation in the liver, iron build-up in the body, and other medical problems such as cystic fibrosis, biliary atresia, and certain genetic disorders can contribute to liver cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis symptoms and signs are often delayed until the liver has been severely damaged. These are some of them:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Appetite loss.
- Legs, feet, and ankles swell
- Loss of weight
- Itchy skin
- Skin and ocular yellowness
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen with spider-like blood veins on the skin
- The palms of the hands are red.
Cirrhosis of the liver can also cause renal failure, liver cancer, diabetes, and liver failure.
Myth 2: Only alcoholics suffer from fatty liver:
Whether or not you are addicted to alcohol, exceeding the prescribed “safe limit” can put your body in danger by developing fatty liver.
Other factors may increase your chances of having the disease. A high-fat, high-sugar diet can play a significant role. If you are overweight or have diabetes, you have a chance greater than 30% suffering from fatty liver.
Other factors to consider are:
- There is a history of fatty liver in your family.
- Rapid weight loss is possible.
- Taking steroid medicines daily
When the liver naturally fails to break down fats, non-alcoholic fatty liver can develop, leading to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or liver enlargement.
What is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?
NASH is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in which the liver is inflamed (hepatitis), and the fat damages liver cells in the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH) is more common in those who have one or more of the following conditions:
- Obesity, especially a large waist circumference, is a problem.
- Blood pressure that is too high
- Type 2 diabetes
- High triglyceride levels or abnormal cholesterol levels in the blood.
Symptoms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (liver swelling):
NASH is a condition that often goes unnoticed since it has few or no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may show as tiredness or abdominal discomfort. NASH, if left untreated, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or malignancy.
#Myth 3: Hard liquor is more harmful than beer or wine.
It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol you drink; what matters is how much of it you consume.
#Myth 4: Fatty liver disease is a rare condition
Fatty liver is, unfortunately, becoming more and more widespread around the world. This could be due to unhealthy diets, binge drinking culture, and a higher rate of obesity.
Fatty liver affects about 25–30% of the general population, with about 15% of those suffering from the more serious form, leading to cirrhosis and cancer.
#Myth 5: Fatty liver disease is a permanent condition.
There is currently no drug that can effectively treat fatty liver. However, you can minimize your chances or possibly reverse the illness by making specific lifestyle adjustments.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and using natural therapies can prevent fatty liver diseases:
- Alcohol is harmful to the liver and should be avoided.
- Sugar consumption should be reduced.
- To keep your cholesterol and triglycerides in check, avoid fatty meals and opt for a plant-based.
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.
- If you’re overweight or obese, try to reduce weight by lowering your daily calorie intake and increasing your physical activity.
- A nutritious diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats like chicken and fish can help manage the disease significantly.
Myth 6: Fatty liver is more common in women than in males.
While this was always assumed to be the case, recent research indicates that men and women are at equal risk.
Speak to a gastroenterologist if you’re worried about your risk of fatty liver or want further lifestyle suggestions to keep your liver healthy.