Liver Health after 40

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Thank you Dr. George for your guest post highlighting yet another serious consequence of staying unhealthy and unfit! Be watching for more fantastically informational blogs from this scholar!

Fatty Liver Disease - Text on Chalkboard. 3D Illustration.

Liver Health and Fatty Liver Disease

Want another reason for eating right, exercising and staying fit?  An active lifestyle, nutritionally motivated eating, and a healthy weight are excellent ways to promote liver health. The Second Chance at Health book can guide you.

The liver has the primary job of metabolizing fat in your body.  Most people know that alcohol consumption will cause liver disease.  And many people think that only heavy alcohol drinkers experience liver problems.  However Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) affects people that never drink alcohol or rarely drink alcohol.  When there is too much fat in the diet, or a person has one of many metabolic disorders, or when too little fat is used through daily activities, this excess fat may end up deposited into the liver cells.  Even some medications can increase the amount of fat stored in the liver.

NAFLD is now considered the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people. NAFLD is a condition that develops when fat builds up in your liver.  And NAFLD doesn’t just make you sick- it can cause you to die!

Since we want to live long healthy lives- there are a few things we need to know about risk factors associated with developing NAFLD or NASH.

Risk factors: NAFLD is more likely to develop in people:

of all ages but especially in people in their 40s and 50s

that are obese especially those with abdominal fat

with high blood sugar that are considered pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetics

with metabolic syndrome

with insulin resistance

with high levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood

with polycystic ovary syndrome

with sleep apnea

with underactive thyroid or underactive pituitary gland

There are two basic types of Fatty Liver:

  1. NAFLD is when the liver has significant amounts of fat.
  2. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH is a more serious condition. NASH livers have excess fat and have inflammation and liver damage at the cellular level. This inflammation creates scarring and can lead to irreversible damage that is very similar to the liver damage heavy alcohol drinkers. NASH can result in cirrhosis and ultimately liver failure.

Complications of Liver Disease:

The most serious complication of NFLD and NASH is cirrhosis.  Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, such as the inflammation associated with NASH.  Cirrhosis can be life threatening.  The liver tries to stop inflammation by producing areas of scarring (fibrosis). With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more and more liver tissue.   If the process of liver inflation and fibrotic scarring continues, cirrhosis can occur.  About 20 percent of people with NASH will progress to cirrhosis.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease usually causes no signs or symptoms.

When there are signs or symptoms, they may include:

Enlarged liver

Fatigue

Pain in the upper right abdomen

Possible signs and symptoms of NASH and cirrhosis include:

Abdominal swelling due to fluid accumulation (ascites)

Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface including your esophagus

Enlarged breasts in men

Enlarged spleen

Red palms

Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)

Liver cancer

End-stage liver failure, which means the liver has stopped functioning

Abnormally elevated liver function tests

Prevention

To reduce your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or its progress to cirrhosis:

Eat healthy.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise. Intentional exercise every day if possible for at least 30 to 45 minutes!

I can assist you in your journey to health and fitness. This may be a lifesaving action that you take. Cirrhosis cannot be cured. Don’t take your chances with your liver! Maintain a healthy weight, and be intentionally active. Order my book, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating.

Nursechrisp11 final thumbnail for ejunky

References:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567

Nonalcohlic Fatty Liver Disease and NASH.   National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:  Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash

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