What is Fatty Liver Disease and How Can You Avoid It?
Fatty liver disease means that your liver can’t process fat as well as it should and stores it instead. The fat cells it stores can burst and cause scar tissue. That makes it more difficult for the liver to do its job.
Fatty liver disease doesn’t always cause serious problems, but it can. Especially if it progresses without treatment. If not stopped, it can advance to a point where the liver is almost completely taken over by scar tissue and can’t function well.
People sometimes think that liver disease only happens to others who drink too much alcohol, but that isn’t always true. There are different types of fatty liver disease that aren’t caused by alcohol. It is true that drinking too much makes a person more likely to get fatty liver disease, but it can also be tied to conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Certain medications can also increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease doesn’t always have symptoms, at first. But when it does, they may include:
- Feeling full in the middle or upper right side
- Abdominal pain in the upper right side
- Weight loss, loss of appetite
- Loss of memory, confusion
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes, called jaundice
- Weakness, shaky hands that make it difficult to do things like write.
How do I know if I have fatty liver disease?
You may have had a blood test or ultrasound as the first steps in diagnosing fatty liver.
Traditionally, the next step would be a biopsy. But GCSA’s specialists can diagnose scar tissue in your liver using FibroScan, a special kind of ultrasound that measures liver scarring and fatty buildup.
FibroScan is quick, painless, and non-invasive. In fact, there is no need to rest and recover like after a traditional biopsy. You can return to your normal activities right after a FibroScan appointment.
Your GCSA doctor will use the test results to determine how much of your liver has fatty buildup. From there, you can develop a treatment plan together.
How can I avoid fatty liver disease?
The best way to avoid fatty liver disease is to live an overall healthy lifestyle. There is no medication that can cure fatty liver disease, so preventing it is the best plan. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help. A healthy diet is an especially important part of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet for your entire body, especially your liver, includes:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean protein like fish or chicken
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds.
A lot of the foods we eat today are full of fats and sugars that are hard on our bodies. It is especially important to avoid those foods, like:
- Processed foods
- Fast food
- Foods high in sugar, including beverages and factory-made treats and sweets
- Excess alcohol
Making diet changes can be overwhelming but might be one of the best things you can do for your health. Nutrition counseling at GCSA can help you get a handle on fatty liver symptoms while helping you keep your liver as healthy as possible. At GCSA, a registered dietician will meet with you to talk about your health first. Then, the dietician will work with your doctor to design an individualized meal plan for you.
Working with a specialist takes the pressure off you so you can focus on your health and enjoy the results. Together, your dietitian and doctor can help you stay as comfortable and healthy as possible.