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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kathleen Jones

How to Keep Your Liver NAFL-Free

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFL, is a liver condition that occurs in people who drink little to no alcohol. NAFL can develop if there is excess fat in the liver. This can cause pain as the liver becomes enlarged, and can lead to other health complications if not managed properly. Today we are going to discuss some risk factors for NAFL, and look at the best ways to prevent NAFL from occurring or to manage it properly if it has already developed.


What are the risk factors for NAFL?

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs mainly in Western/developed countries, and often co-occurs with diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Middle-aged people are more at risk for NAFL, and post-menopausal women develop NAFL at a higher rate than other age groups. Other risk factors for NAFL: Type 2 diabetes, rapid weight loss, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, poor gut health/an unbalanced microbiome, eating a diet high in fructose, carrying excess weight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and/or generally making poor dietary choices. There is also thought to be a genetic component that affects your chances of developing NAFL, and it’s important to note that some people will still develop NAFL even if they do not have any of the common risk factors.


What are the symptoms of NAFL?

Approximately 25% of the U.S. population has NAFL, but the majority of people will actually have few or no symptoms, so it’s a good idea to have routine blood tests to make sure your liver is functioning normally. People who do develop NAFL symptoms normally feel fatigued, and may have pain on the upper right side of their abdomen. If left untreated, NAFL can develop into NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), a more serious condition in which your liver becomes inflamed, scarred, or otherwise damaged.


What is the best way to prevent or manage NAFL?

There are plenty of ways to keep your liver from developing NAFL, or to prevent NAFL from causing further liver issues if you have been diagnosed with it. First, follow a diet that is rich in whole wheat grains, fruits, fiber-rich veggies, and lots of unsaturated fats like omega-3s. Second, limit simple sugars like soda and chips and avoid alcohol will help keep your liver healthy. Third, exercise! Increasing your physical activity helps your body regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. Fourth, lose excess weight if possible. Remember, rapid weight loss is a NAFL risk factor, so if you are aiming to lose weight, do it in a sustainable way - 1 or 2 pounds per week is a good general guideline.



 

Sources


DiGiacinto, Jessica. 2021. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Healthline.


Various Authors. 2022. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22437-non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease


Various Authors. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NALFD). The Liver Foundation.


Various Authors. 2022. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Hopkins Medicine.


Various Authors. 2021. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Mayo Clinic.


Warfield, Kristen. 2022. The #1 Worst Drink Causing a Fatty Liver. Eat This, Not That.






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