Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a common condition characterized by the build-up of excess fat in the liver. It is the most common form of liver disease in the United States, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million Americans. NAFLD is often associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. If left untreated, it can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe form of the disease.
NASH is a progressive form of NAFLD that can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and even liver cancer. NASH is a serious condition that affects 2 to 5% of Americans. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for the disease. Therefore, it is essential to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease, including NASH.
At IMA Research, we are committed to advancing research of NASH and NAFLD. We conduct clinical trials to develop new therapies and treatments that can help patients manage their condition and improve their quality of life.
Risk Factors for Fatty Liver Disease
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing fatty liver disease. These include:
- Obesity or being overweight
- High triglycerides
- High cholesterol
These risk factors are closely associated with metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce the Risk of Fatty Liver Disease
There are several lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease. These include:
#1: Lose Weight
Obesity and being overweight are the primary risk factors for NAFLD and NASH. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. It can also reduce the risk of developing more severe forms of the disease. It is essential to make dietary changes to lose weight, including reducing the intake of carbohydrates and saturated fats, and increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, getting regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
#2: Control Your Diabetes
Diabetes is a significant risk factor for NAFLD and NASH. Control your blood sugar levels by closely monitoring your blood sugar and taking medications as prescribed. In addition, making dietary changes, such as reducing the intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, can help control blood sugar levels.
#3: Keep Your Cholesterol Down
High levels of cholesterol are also a risk factor for fatty liver disease. Limit your intake of saturated fats. These are found in meat, poultry skin, butter, shortening, milk, and dairy products (except fat-free versions). Replacing them with monounsaturated fats (olive, canola, and peanut oils) and polyunsaturated fats (corn, safflower, soybean oils, and many types of nuts) can help reduce cholesterol levels.
#4: Protect Your Liver
Avoiding alcohol and reducing your intake of medications and over-the-counter drugs can help protect your liver from damage. In addition, be cautious about taking dietary supplements. Check with your healthcare provider before trying herbal remedies. Finally, getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B can help protect your liver from viral infections.
NAFLD and NASH are serious conditions that require attention and management. There are limited medical treatments available. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of progression by implementing lifestyle changes such as weight loss, diabetes and cholesterol control, and protecting your liver.