The liver-lifestyle connect

October 10, 2017 Lifestyle Diseases 10387 Views


A widespread belief that alcohol consumption damages the liver blots the other possible causes which could cause the liver malfunction. One such is the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is related to abnormal glucose tolerance and a metabolism condition known as metabolic syndrome.

What exactly is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

When liver fat exceeds 5-10% of the liver weight and is not due to too much alcoholic consumption, then it is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) related to obesity and insulin resistence (IR). It is IR that further compounds the problem as it propagates the breakdown of lipids and triglycerides in the adipose tissue, which are later released into the blood and then the liver. Simply put, people who are obese are more prone to the metabolic syndrome and this then manifests itself as a liver problem.

A recent article in a national daily mentioned an alarming statistic. It said that an increasing number of patients are having fat deposits in their liver. Many have reported that 1 in 5 Indians have excess fat and 1 in 10 suffer from fatty liver disease. A sad truth is that our country could now unfortunately rate liver disease as the next lifestyle disease after diabetes & BP. What is a matter of larger concern is that while earlier the liver diseases were caused by Hepatitis B & C, today it is mainly caused due to alcohol and obesity. Modern day sedentary lifestyle takes the major blame for today’s liver affliction. WHO states it is the 10th most common cause of death in India.

Reason for worry

In Japan, the incidence of  NAFLD has almost doubled in a span of just 2-3 years from 1989 to 2000. Another study in Japan throws light on how age can also be a contributory factor to NAFLD, as the disease peaked among 40-49 year old males and 60-69 years in females. However, in China, it was different – it peaked among both men and women between 60-69 years.

Men are more prone to AFLD  than women, in the ratio of 9:1. While in the US, another study revealed how NAFLD is more prevalent among Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks. 

Can Hepatologist and Gastroentrologist  or a  Liver and Hepatobiliary Surgeon predict whether a person will have ALD or NAFLD, based on theses factors. Say by refering to the person’s history or pattern of alcohol consumption ? For empirical support, doctors refer to the ALD/NAFLD Index which takes into account various factors such as BMI, gender etc. This kind of differential diagnosis, coupled with severity and stage of the disease is important. when it comes to treatment. Especially since the universal biopsy is not always financially feasible. And also because of its invasive nature, it results in tremendous pain and discomfort.

80% of diabetic Indians are prone to NAFLD as they have more fat. Also, a combination of fatty liver disease and diabetes is extremely dangerous.

Precaution  and prevention

  • Opt for less rice, sugar and more fiber in your diet.
  • Avail of Hepatitis vaccinations if required.
  • Drink 2 cups of coffee daily.
  • Maintain ideal body weight.
  • Aerobics or similar exercise will help you to cut down fat.

If your body is showing symptoms of fatty liver disease, then don’t waste time and contact your nearest Hepatologist and Gastroenterologist.

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