7 myths about fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease is characterized by fat deposits in the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic steatohepatitis, another name for alcohol-associated fatty liver disease, make up the majority of cases. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the liver manifestation of the metabolic syndrome and is defined by a liver fat buildup with or without corresponding liver damage when there is no alcohol present or other potential risk factors.

Recently, a group of leading international specialists advocated changing the disease’s acronym from NAFLD to metabolic (dysfunction) associated fatty liver disease to reflect the metabolic origin of the condition and balance out the definition’s pronounced emphasis on alcohol. The illnesses together referred to as metabolic syndrome raises your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Some of these issues include elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Common myths about fatty liver disease

With so much information available, it can be confusing what to believe and what not to believe. Having said that, here are 7 myths about the fatty liver disease:

Myth 1: Fatty liver is uncommon

Fact: The likelihood of having NAFLD is rising. According to recent research conducted in India, the urban population is more affected than the rural population in many states, with up to half of the population being afflicted. It is the second most frequent reason for liver illness necessitating a transplant. It is concerning to see that the incidence among kids and teenagers is rising. In comparison to weight gain in late adulthood, weight gain during school years carries a larger risk of NAFLD.

fatty liver
Avoid fatty liver disease with healthy habits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myth 2: Obese people are prone to NAFLD

Fact: Only 34 per cent of NAFLD patients are obese; the remaining individuals are normal weight or overweight. Patients with NAFLD who are lean have more visceral fat, and have abnormal metabolism. They are also at a higher risk of developing severe liver disease as those who are obese.

Myth 3: NAFLD is primarily a liver condition

Fact: Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease are all linked to fatty liver. Intestinal malignancies, osteoporosis, psoriasis, sleep apnea, and different hormonal problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome are also associated with it. In fact, 93 per cent of NAFLD patients also have another metabolic disorder. Recent studies suggest that fatty liver is the root cause of diabetes, insulin resistance, and chronic kidney disease in addition to being a marker for the aforementioned illnesses. It is noteworthy that cardiovascular illness, not liver disease, is the leading cause of mortality in NAFLD.

Also read: Keep your child away from fatty liver disease – here’s how

Myth 4: Abdominal pain and yellow eyes are the only symptoms

Fact: The disease NAFLD progresses gradually. Most folks don’t have any symptoms. They may experience symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and pain in the right-side of the stomach. All cases of fatty liver cannot be detected by straightforward liver function tests. An abdominal ultrasound may reveal a fatty liver, but other procedures, such as hepatic elastography and liver biopsy, are necessary to accurately determine the severity of liver damage.

fatty liver
Keep a check on the symptoms of fatty liver. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myth 5: There is no requirement for professional consultation

Fact: Multidisciplinary management of fatty liver disease is necessary. It is necessary to consult an expert to accurately assess the degree of liver damage, forecast development and prognosis, rule out alternative causes of liver disease, customize therapy for unique risk profiles, and manage the severe liver disease if inadvertently discovered.

Myth 6: Losing weight is the best treatment for fatty liver

Fat in the liver reduces and slows down with a prolonged weight loss of 7–10 per cent of body weight. Today, there are many different treatment options available, including targeted lifestyle changes, medication, and surgical methods for managing obesity.

Lifestyle changes include avoiding unhealthy meals and engaging in frequent, moderate exercise. NAFLD is treated using medications such as vitamin E, medications for diabetes, and medications for excessive cholesterol. There are several different bariatric procedures available, both endoscopic and surgical, for people who are struggling to lose weight.

Myth 7: It has nothing to do with drinking alcohol

The effects of alcohol on the liver vary depending on factors such as how much is consumed, gender, drinking habits, heredity, and body mass. Alcohol-related liver damage is more likely to affect obese drinkers than non-obese drinkers. A patient is often instructed to abstain totally or nearly completely after a NAFLD diagnosis. For patients, this might not be possible or acceptable due to societal factors. If the underlying liver condition is mild, intake should be kept to a minimum.

fatty liver
Alcohol can be a silent killer for obese people. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Prevention tips for fatty liver

  • Metabolic fatty liver disease should be made known to the general public, and early detection and screening for the condition are required.
  • Eat a balanced diet, and stay away from processed carbs and saturated and trans fats. Green vegetables, salmon, walnuts, olive oil, green tea, coffee, oats, and tofu are some foods that can be beneficial.
  • By exercising frequently, you can keep your weight under control to stay healthy.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol use and quit smoking.
  • To keep diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia firmly under control, get regular checkups and use medication.

In conclusion, it is important to avoid sedentary behavior, low physical activity, and a bad diet to prevent fatty liver disease.

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