Fatty liver: Know it well
What is Fatty liver?
Fatty liver is when there is excess fats present in the liver. There are 2 kinds of fatty liver, namely Alcoholic fatty liver, and non alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). The prevalence of NAFLD is increasing rapidly with the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
In Asia, the reported prevalence has been reported at 27.4%. However, in westernised Asian populations, including in Singapore, prevalence appears to be higher, with rates as high as 40% being reported.
Image source from Healthline
There are usually no symptoms. When there is, it includes:
Pain or discomfort in upper right abdomen
Risk factors and causes of NAFLD
Overweight or obesity
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
High levels of triglycerides in the blood
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)
How is Fatty liver diagnosed or screened?
There are several methods your doctor might use to help diagnose/screen for fatty liver. These include:
Physical examination: Your doctor may palate or press on your abdomen to check for any enlargement of the liver
Blood tests: checking for elevated liver enzymes (ALT/AST) can determine fatty liver.
Imagine study: checking for excess fat requires imaging studies. Your doctor may use ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan. A test called vibration-controlled transient elastography (VCTE, FibroScan) may be used to check for liver stiffness.
Liver biopsy: determines severity of liver disease
Foods to avoid for Fatty liver
Alcohol: Major cause of liver disease
Added sugar especially high fructose corn syrup: High blood sugar increase fat build up in the liver
Fried foods: High in fats and calories
Salt/processed foods: Limit sodium to 1500mg. Excess salt make your body hold on to excess water
Refined carbohydrates: These raise your blood sugar, in which increases fat build up in the liver
Red meats: High in saturated fats
Foods to include for a healthier Liver
Monounsaturated fats and omega fatty acids: these fats allow your body use insulin better
Complex carbohydrates: prevents sugar spikes, prevents overeating
Antioxidants: helps in cell health
Soy protein: isoflavones improve insulin sensitivity
If you are overweight or obese and suffering from NAFLD, weight reduction of at least 10% can induce an improvement of 1 stage.
Speak to your Liver doctor regarding liver damage reversal and a registered nutritionist/dietitian for liver health maintenance.