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22 Apr 2024, Edition - 3205, Monday

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Beat the bulge and save the liver

Covai Post Network


Obesity is a growing cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver that can lead to serious diseases. Liver specialist, Dr S Vivekanandan insists on proper intake of healthy food, regular exercise and elimination of junk food to get the better of this lifestyle disease.

The growing problem of obesity, especially among youngsters, is the cause for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, affecting one among three people.

This is a serious disease that can prove dangerous. A proper intake of healthy food and exercise can keep fat from entering the liver.

Fatty liver disease is becoming increasingly common and its incidence is due to changing lifestyle. It is a state where fat builds up in the cells of the liver. Quite contrary to the notion that excessive alcohol consumption is cause for this disease, it may not be related to alcohol. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is mostly due to overweight. This is particularly common in men and people with diabetes. This can be a cause for serious problems such as cancer and cirrhosis.

An indication of a healthy liver is that there will be very little or no fat at all in it. But there could be instances when fat molecules (triglycerides) begin to collect in the liver cells. Small amounts of such fat many not be harmful. But if allowed to build up, such fats could lead to a diseased liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver has become so common like cirrhosis that is the result of excessive alcohol consumption. The gigantic dimension of the problem can be gauged by the fact that one in three people are said to have some degree of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases.

Sadly, its incidence is rapidly increasing among the youth, mainly due to unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise.

The disease can result in an inflamed liver (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and the only cure for this is liver transplantation. It could also lead to cancer in the absence of cirrhosis.
Fatty liver, incidentally, has no symptoms, especially when there is a mild presence of fat in the liver. Early symptoms are that the person might feel tired and there could be some discomfort as when there is some viral illness.

It could also show symptoms of rapid weight loss, which could also be due to the intake of some medicines. But these are rare cases.

Fatty liver disease can at times be difficult to diagnose as symptoms do not manifest in the early stages. Initially, liver function tests could show normal results though slowly, there could be an elevation in the liver enzyme. Ultrasound scan is perhaps the best screening tool and the radiologist can grade the fattiness of the liver. Liver biopsy is the certain way to check the level of damage.

Staying away from consuming alcohol is the first treatment. For any liver disease, even if it is not a fatty one. There is no specific treatment for NAFLD. The only way out is to make lifestyle changes. Losing excess weight, maintaining an active lifestyle and treating other diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol can help in reducing fat in the liver.
A word of advice is to maintain a healthy height-weight body mass index. Ensure at least half an hour of exercise every day. It is ideal to cut down on rice and potato which are high in carbohydrates, and avoid junk food.

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