Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

In the previous article, we saw how the fat is metabolized in a human body and how it affects the increase of the weight. In this article, we will further understand what adverse effect of excess fat in the body can be. We saw that the fat consumed is metabolized through the Gastrointestinal tract and through the Liver. NASH (Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) also known as the Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the types of fatty liver disease. NASH is a condition in which there is fat build up in the liver. It is a syndrome that develops in patients who are not alcoholic, it causes liver damage that is histologically indistinguishable from alcoholic hepatitis.

It is more likely to develop NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) or NASH—if you

  • Are overweight or obese, especially with a large waist size
  • Have insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • Have abnormal levels of fats in your blood, which may include
    • High levels of triglycerides
    • Abnormal levels of cholesterol—high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, or low HDL cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

It has been studied that Prevalence of the NAFLD is estimated to be around 9-32% in the general Indian population, with a higher incidence rate amongst obese and diabetic patients.

Females are more prone to NAFLD as compared to males with 60% percent of females and close to 54% in males. The prevalence of NAFLD increases with the age, and the age group between 25 to 70 years is at higher risk of acquiring the disease.

The high prevalence of NASH and NAFLD in India can be mainly due to the Indian diet which is rich in carbohydrates and relatively low in proteins. The high level of carbohydrates consumed are ultimately converted into fat inside the liver and then the excess of this fat is stored in the liver. This ultimately results in cause/ progression to NASH and NAFLD.

As no medicines have been approved to treat NAFLD and NASH, Doctors recommend weight loss to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Weight loss reduces the fat in the liver and decreases the inflammation and fibrosis, or scarring. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight by making healthy food choices, limiting portion sizes, and being physically active can improve NAFLD and NASH.

Losing at least 3 to 5 percent of your body weight can reduce fat in the liver. You may need to lose up to 10 percent of your body weight to reduce liver inflammation. Doctors recommend gradually losing 7 percent of your body weight or more over the course of 1 year. Rapid weight loss through fasting—eating and drinking nothing except water—can make NAFLD worse.

Eating a wholesome nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight is must to prevent or treat the Fatty Liver Disease. These changes in your diet will not only help to stay away from NASH but it will also help you to stay away from all the other potential health hazards. Adopting healthy and active life keeps liver fit for long.

High Protein, High Fibre, Low Fat, Low carb diet is the recommended choice of diet. Lean meat, green salads without dressing are preferred. For vegetarians- pulses, beans, sprouts as a source of protein. Where it is not possible to adopt an ideal diet due to the time or convenience constraints then whey protein enriched meal replacements might be considered.