Jun 032013
 
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Slider burgers – Photo by Flickr/thebittenword.com

If you have Fatty Liver Disease, you may be wondering how it happened – how and why did your liver get fat?

First of all, you should know that this an increasingly common health problem. More and more people are developing this condition. As a matter of fact, an estimated one-third of all people living in the United States have it – and most of them don’t even know it.

Many doctors refer to Fatty Liver Disease as: “The fat you can’t see.”

But, what exactly is Fatty Liver Disease?

What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty Liver Disease, also known as NAFLD, or Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, is a condition characterized by too much fat in the liver, which is not caused by alcohol.

Even children can develop this condition.

Most people have fat in their liver, and it doesn’t lead to problems. It’s when your liver accumulates too much fat that things start to go south for its health, as well as yours. Your liver is critical to detoxifying, aiding in digestion, changing food into energy, breaking down fat and many other vital processes that your body depends on to maintain a state of optimal health and well being.

Complications arise when fat comprises more than over 5% of your liver’s weight. As fat cells develop, they push the liver cells further away from each other. If this condition worsens, it could lead to permanent scarring, called cirrhosis.

A fatty liver simply has too much fat between each cell. This is often caused by a person gaining weight and becoming overweight themselves with too much body fat, and part of that excess fat being deposited in the liver.

If you have Fatty Liver Disease, you need to become knowledgeable about what it is and how you came to get it in the first place. Knowledge is power and the more you understand about the cause and effects of Fatty Liver Disease, along with ways to reverse it, will play a tremendous part in restoring both you and your liver to a state of good health.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

pot bellyWhat causes Fatty Liver Disease to develop? How did you end up with fat in your liver, anyway?

One of the liver’s functions is to transform fat and sugars into energy. While there is as yet no concrete answer as to why the liver gets fat, the current theory is that the main reason is related to complications arising from insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes).

When the body doesn’t respond as well to insulin (due to too many years of too much sugar in the diet), the hormone builds up in the blood, triggering a cascade effect of excess glucose and fatty acids floating in the blood. These fatty acids then begin to accumulate in the liver. As more and more fat accumulates, the liver enlarges, and permanent scaring can result.

Nobody yet knows what causes this trigger where fatty liver disease becomes inflamed (called NASH – nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) – if it ever does. Most people will never develop this complication.

These are the common and uncommon causes that trigger fatty liver disease:

Common:

  • obesity
  • type two diabetes
  • hypertension
  • dyslipidemia (too much fat and cholesterol in the blood)

Uncommon causes:

  • various metabolism disorders
  • Weber–Christian disease (inflammation of the skin)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Medications, such as amiodarone, tamoxifen and corticosteroids
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Sudden weight loss, usually caused by gastric bypass surgery or starvation

Diseases Associated with a Fatty Liver

A fatty liver may cause a number of unpleasant symptoms and ill effects on your health. If left to its own devices, with no effort on your part to reverse it, Fatty Liver Disease may progress to serious, even life threatening conditions.

So, if you gain too much weight and have excess body fat, you are at risk of developing Fatty Liver Disease. Here are some other causes:

  • Type II Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides

Strangely enough, rather than gaining too much weight, you can also develop a fatty liver by losing too much weight, too rapidly. This is because your liver breaks down fats in your diet, but if you lose body fat very quickly, it puts a strain on your liver to break down all that fat and the excess deposits in your liver.

Here are some of the possible health conditions that Fatty Liver Disease might lead to:

  • Cirrhosis, or fibrous scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure

Obviously, these health problems are something you would probably prefer to avoid if possible, and it would be helpful to know the symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease.

Early Warning Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Your liver is unable to feel pain. Although many people who suffer from Fatty Liver Disease do experience abdominal pain or discomfort, this is caused by the inflammation of the liver and not by actual pain in the liver. It may also be attributed at least in part to poor digestion, since having a fatty liver that cannot digest food properly can certainly lead to indigestion and abdominal symptoms.

That being said, there are some early warning signs of Fatty Liver Disease:

  • Nausea
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • A feeling of uncomfortable fullness in the upper abdomen

If you suspect that you have the warning signs and symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease, you should make the lifestyle changes necessary to stop it in its tracks and even reverse the damage.

Start today to reverse Fatty Liver Disease – the life you save may be your own!

 Posted by at 10:00 pm

  8 Responses to “Why is My Liver Fat? Causes of Fatty Liver Disease”

  1. I’m in the heart of Mexico (guanajuato State–San Miguel de Allende) and my friend who speaks only Spanish has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Her husband speaks fluent English. They have been appreciative of me finding information such as the information above, but I am a medical social worker (who speaks mostly only English) so I am limited. My sense is that she is very intelligent and would follow any instructions but might truly be living with only the diagnosis and not necessarily instructions as to what to do. I am showing her husband all of this information and he interprets. She now has raw vegetable drinks every day.

    But I have no place to go to get information.

    For example, is she a candidate for milk thistle?

    Is there any group anywhere in our region I might work with?

    • Hello Chris. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with finding information in Mexico, but the first step is look for information at your local hospital. You said she is thin, so there may be something other than diet as the cause, as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is mainly due to a so-called “Western lifestyle” of too much fast food, inactivity and diabetes. Other causes could be certain medications like methotrexate and tamoxifen, high doses of Tylenol, viral hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, or even rapid weight loss. Raw vegetable drinks is great, but as part of a balanced diet.

      Include eggs as well, as some studies may link liver problems to a lack of choline in the diet. Egg yolks has the greatest amount of this mineral, and it can also be found in chicken, turkey and green leafy vegetables like collard greens and swiss chard.

      Herbs such as milk thistle are safe, and you drink it as a tea. It has a flavonoid called silymarin that may help repair damaged liver cells (there’s mixed studies on whether it’s effective). Otherwise, I would definitely check first with some medical tests to see why she is ill. I wish you well!

  2. My Name Is Yolanda. I Was Diagnosed Of Having A Fatty Liver. How I’m Going To Get Rid Of This. I Always Have Stomach Pain. I Was Worried About This. My Doctor Give Me A Blood Test And Ultrasound. What Else That I Supposed To Do. Thank You.

    • Hello Yolanda, you’ve come to the right place. Start with my Step 1 and go from there. Consult with your doctor on questions, and I would also look for a nutritionist or dietician, as a lot of (non-alcoholic) fatty liver cases are due to the type of food you eat. Take care! I’ve received a lot of comments from people who have improved their condition.

  3. Thank you for the information. I also had the non-alcoholic kind and I am thin not fat. I am going to see a Natural Path Doctor now because I had an ultra sound but it is taking too long to see a medical specialist. Is it good to see a Natural Path? Also thank you very much for your website. It is very helpful.

    • Kerry. I am in your position. I am thin and have fatty liver or nash. Have you fixed your fatty liver and was it worth seeing a nathopath. So far for me gp has been useless. Your thoughts

  4. hi .. is there any link between fatty liver and alopecia areata … i have alopecia areata from last 3 years .. from last few months i wasfeeling slight pain and discomfort and i was diagnosed with fatty liver …

    • I haven’t heard of a link, but I haven’t researched that specifically. Is it possible you have a single condition that’s linking these in some way? What does your doctor have to say about this?

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