A lot of people are wondering what fatty liver is. Since this involves one of the important or major organs of the body, people have to do their best to understand what this condition is and how people possibly avoid it. This article will be discussing about fatty liver and diet.
Basically, the liver is considered the largest gland in the human body. As part of the digestive system, it plays a big role. It is located under the diaphragm, a little bit to the right side. It lies over the stomach, which is why pictures of the digestive system would show the liver almost covering the entire stomach.
The liver is made up of 4 different lobes. It hangs from the diaphragm and the abdominal wall by the falciform ligament. It is by far, one of the body’s most important organs, which is why people should know how to take care of it properly. It plays a lot of roles in the body, mainly digestive, metabolic, and regulatory. Its main digestive function is to produce bile, a yellowish to greenish solution that emulsifies the fats that are being digested. Bile breaks down large fat globules into smaller globules.
Bile leaves the liver and leaves it through the common hepatic duct which then enters into the duodenum and then through the bile duct. Bile salts are the ones responsible to break down the fats that come from our diet.
The liver is responsible for a lot of biochemical functions in our body. The capability of the liver to help in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and vitamins is vital and could influence a person’s nutritional status.
When the liver develops some type of condition, this could interfere with the different roles of the organ. It is easy to understand that once the liver is impaired, there is surely going to be a lot of imbalances in the body, from nutrition to metabolism.
What is fatty liver?
Fatty liver, or medically termed as hepatic steatosis, is known to be one of the symptoms of another problem. Typically dubbed as the earliest form of alcoholic liver disease, it can also be triggered due to excessive caloric intake, complications of taking different medications (such as tetracyclines and corticosteroids), obesity, pregnancy, infection, or malignancies. Fats infiltrate the liver when triglycerides build up within the tissues of the organ, which could then lead to its enlargement. Infiltration happens because of the improper metabolism of fats. This, however, could still be reversed by removing the causative agent.
But then, even if fatty liver disease could have a number of underlying causes, there are still times when this is a disease by itself, especially among those who have excessive alcohol intake and belong under the obese category.
What causes Fatty Liver?
Fat usually accumulates in the liver due to the heavy use of alcohol, diabetes mellitus, or obesity. This could also develop among individuals who have poor diet and certain illnesses (example: tuberculosis), use of corticosteroids, and intestinal bypass surgery for those who are obese.
How is it identified?
Doctors would usually suspect this condition among people who have the said diseases or conditions aforementioned. There could be an occurrence of enlargement of the liver or the slight elevation of results in liver enzyme tests. There are some studies that show fatty liver is one of the common reasons of getting isolated slight elevation of liver enzymes discovered in routine blood screening.
In order to check for real if a patient has fatty liver, a sample of liver tissue is obtained through a biopsy. Various images of the liver are taken through ultrasounds or computed tomography scans (CT scans) and this could show the presence of fatty liver. Ultrasounds would show a bright image that has a rippling pattern, which indicates a fatty liver. CT scans show scans of a liver that has lesser density than what is considered normal.
How Can Fat Enter the Liver?
Doctors are not really certain as to how this condition occurs. A patient is diagnosed to have a fatty liver when the fat adds on the weight of the organ by about 5 percent. Some explanations about this condition would be the possibility of transference of fat from different parts of the body, or the increase of fat extraction being presented to the liver coming from the intestines. Another possible explanation is that the liver itself reduces the rate in which it tries to break down and remove the fat. People will be happy to know that eating fatty food alone will not trigger the onset of this condition.
Can it lead to different liver diseases?
Simple fatty liver is normally not connected with other liver problems like inflammation or scarring. This is basically a condition that is common among patients who are suffering from Diabetes Mellitus or are overweight.
People who take too much alcohol may, in time, develop liver damage plus fatty liver. Taking too much alcohol, or suffering from alcoholism, could bode unwell for your liver. There could be inflammation or scarring. Though there are patients that are alcoholics and have fatty liver, this condition does not lead to the development of alcoholic liver cirrhosis or hepatitis.
When people become middle-aged or overweight, there is a risk of suffering from an inflammation of the liver due to the increase of fat deposits in the organ. Even diabetic patients who do not drink alcohol could also suffer from this. This is a condition that is known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which resemples alcoholic hepatitis. The fatty tissues in the liver may scatter, which could then lead to cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. There are certain studies that showed around 20-40% of people who are considered obese are likely to develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. But then, it does not mean that because a person is overweight, he or she already has the disease. This type of illness is associated with rapid weight loss, poorly controlled diabetes, and for women, the inability to take hormones as needed.
Can You Get Treated for Fatty Liver?
The answer is yes. The treatment, however, is highly related to the main cause of the disease. It is to be noted that simple fatty liver disease does not necessarily need treatment because it does not cause any damage to the liver cells nor does it cause clinical disease. Weight loss is the main objective for obese patients who have fatty liver, as the liver will also have a reduction of excess fat. For patients who drink excessively, then cutting alcohol will result to the loss of fat in the liver. For those who are suffering from diabetes and a fatty liver, maintaining good control over the condition with drugs, insulin, and the diet will also help in decreasing the amount of fat in the liver.
Ursodeoxycholic acid may be used to improve the results of liver function tests, but its effect on helping the liver problem is still unknown. People would do well to remember that fatty liver and diet go hand-in-hand.
If you are suffering from fatty liver, the following things are considered essential:
These are the principles that you should live by in order to stay away from fatty liver.
If you have fatty liver and are overweight, then losing weight will be helpful in the reduction of the amount of fat in your liver. The mere reduction of the caloric intake of about 500 to 1000 calories a day will be very helpful in speeding up the process of weight loss. As recommended by the American Dietetic Association, this amount of calorie restriction is okay and should lead you to lose weight at a rate of approximately 1-2 pounds per week.
Choosing carbohydrates that have a high-fiber content and low glycemic index (GI) is one of the best ways to go easy on one’s blood sugar, as well as weight. When eating carbohydrates, it is important to use portion control. Avoid or limit your sugar intake, as well as white bread.
Increase Fiber Intake
Increasing one’s fiber intake could take you a long way to controlling your cholesterol levels, as well as your blood sugar. This is highly beneficial when you have fatty liver disease. Foods that contain high-fiber include whole grains, oatmeal, legumes, nuts, seeds, and raw fruits and vegetables.
Take Healthy Fats and Avoid Solid Fats
Healthy fats can even help people to control their cholesterol levels, which in turn can help them to manage their fatty liver disease. Healthy unsaturated fats could be found in the following: fish oil, avocados, vegetable oils, and nuts.
Solid fats are those that are solid when stored in room temperature, and they usually contain a lot of saturated fats. The foods to avoid are the following: cheese, butter, animal fats, cream, and shortening.
Fatty Liver and diet always go together and people have to know how to control their diets. This could look like a lot of work for them, but in the end, there are a lot of health benefits that could come out of eating a healthy diet. Fatty liver could be avoided. For those who have the condition, it is never too late to make it go away. Maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding the consumption of alcohol are both very good ways to get rid of fatty liver.