Fatty Liver, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention
The liver has many functions vital to human health. It’s function can be compromised if it accumulates excess fat (fatty liver). The causes of a fatty liver include obesity, certain drugs and toxins, alcoholism and a sedentary lifestyle. There are usually no symptoms associated with the condition. If symptoms are present they may include pain in the upper right abdomen and fatigue.
For many years, it has been believed by health experts that the body shape of overweight individuals is a key indicator in the development of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Apple shaped individuals (excess belly fat) have been considered higher risk for these diseases than pear shaped individuals (excess fat on thighs and backside). However, an apple shape may not be the best indicator. New research has found that the only consistent indicator for these diseases is a fatty liver (excess fat in the liver.) Approximately seventy five percent of obese individuals are found to have fatty livers.
Research has found that a fatty liver is directly related to insulin resistance and high cholesterol and other conditions that lead to heart disease and diabetes. The continual rise of obesity in America is increasing the occurrence of fatty liver disease. One study was conducted with two groups of teenagers. The first group had fatty livers and the livers of the second group were normal. The teens with the fatty livers had glucose and fat metabolism abnormalities which included low levels of good HDL cholesterol. Those teens with normal livers had no indications of metabolic problems.
Another study revealed that fatty liver disease resulted in higher levels of fatty acids in the bloodstream. This increased triglyceride levels which are associated with insulin resistance and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
The biggest contributor to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in overweight individuals is inactivity. A four month study was done with overweight animals in which they exercised every day. At the end of the four months there was no signs of fatty liver disease. The next step of the study was to prevent the animals from exercising. After a week, they began to show indications of the fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease can be improved and remedied in a short period of time. Losing weight through proper diet and exercise is the key to reversing fatty liver disease and restoring healthy liver function. A healthy diet should include a high percentage of plant source foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and a low percentage of animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Fast food, junk food, high sugar foods and processed foods should be avoided. More information can be found my article entitled “Healthy Diet Weight Loss.”
Individuals who have not been active should begin with a low impact exercise program. Information about how to use low impact exercise to switch the body into fat burning mode can be found in my article entitled “How to Exercise for Maximum Fat Burning.”