Tweet This, Post to LinkedIn, and Like This!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fat Belly? Your bigger concern should be Fatty Liver.

Fat Belly?  Your bigger concern should be Fatty Liver.

The next time you look in the mirror and look at your gut, you should be more concerned about what's happening on the inside, particularly to you liver.  The condition I am talking about is called Fatty Liver Disease, or Hepatic Steatosis.

What is normal?  

There is always a small amount of fat surrounding your liver.  A small amount (5-10%) of fat in the liver is considered normal.

Who is at risk?

If you drink alcohol (alcoholic liver disease), you are at risk, and this condition is clinically significant, because this may lead to cirrhosis, over time.

In pregnancy, fatty liver can be common.  If you are obese or even overweight, you are at risk.  These two causes are (NAFLD) or Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and are clinically less significant and considered by some sources to be benign, although there is a causative link between fatty liver and type two diabetes, hepatitis, and advanced liver disease, such as cirrhosis as well.

What are the symptoms of fatty liver?

Generally, there are no symptoms.  It is one of those silent diseases.  If you carry a large amount of fat around your midsection, there is a good chance you have fatty liver.  In extreme cases, you may feel some fatigue, abdominal discomfort, enlargement of the liver, weakness, poor appetite, or weight loss.

What are the long term consequences?

In most cases of NAFLD, the long term clinical outcome is minimal with not much evidence of increased mortality.  However, there is a group of the population with with NAFLD that progresses to a more inflammatory liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which leads to hepatitis, end stage liver disease, and a lower chance of survival.

How is fatty liver diagnosed? 

Liver enzymes (transaminases) can be checked, but in many cases, the levels appear normal. Clinically, the signs of Fatty Liver would include high triglycerides, high cholesterol levels. Another way to check would be the use of  ultrasound.  Lastly, MRI or CAT scan can be used.

What can I do to prevent it fatty liver, and is it reversible?

 Fatty liver is one of those diseases which is preventable and often times reversible.  It is highly advised to stay away from a diet high in sugars, and in particular, high fructose corn syrup sweeteners which are found in many foods we eat, from soft drinks to tomato sauce.  Within the liver, these sugars undergo a process called lipogenesis, and much of that fat is stored in the liver and the viscera.  In order to reverse fatty liver, a diet devoid of high sugars and high fructose corn syrup, along with exercise, can lead to weight loss, and ultimately a reduction of fat in the liver.

Do you need some advice or counseling on effective ways to reduce or prevent fatty liver disease?  I have been in practice since 1996.  You can contact my office and make an appointment: 954-659-8600