Fatty liver disease is also known as hepatic steatosis. It is a condition that takes place due to the accumulation of excess fat cells in the liver cells. Fatty liver disease is also categorized into two types: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Alcoholic fatty liver disease happens to people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol and non-alcohol fatty liver disease is observed in those with no alcohol consumption.
The relationship between fatty liver and weight gain is bidirectional. Studies show that obesity and excessive weight gain are significant risk factors for the development and progression of NAFLD.
However, suffering from fatty liver already may contribute to further weight gain. When the liver is overly worked up, it fails to break down nutrients and fats.
As a result, the metabolism slows down. When the metabolism slows down, our body becomes incapable of losing weight quickly.
Understanding Fatty Liver Disease:
While NASH is characterized by an accumulation of fat together with inflammation and liver cell destruction, NAFL refers to the presence of fat in the liver without inflammation.
The more advanced stages of NASH, which can cause fibrosis, cirrhosis, and in extreme cases, liver failure, the more worrisome they are.
People dealing with obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, women with PCOS, rapid weight loss or malnutrition, middle-aged groups, genetics, or heavy substance abuse are some of the people who are at a higher risk to suffer from fatty liver disease.
Symptoms of NAFLD:
In the early stages, the symptoms may not be completely visible. However, as the condition grows further, symptoms like:
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) in severe cases
You can do a regular health check-up and take the tests that your healthcare professional asks you to.
Obesity is one of the risk factors for NAFLD:
Having unwanted weight gain and abdominal obesity are closely linked to NAFLD. Due to this, the body is prone to storing more fat and there is an increased supply of free fatty acids to the liver.
The fatty acids are occupied by the liver cells and are later converted into triglycerides. Triglycerides lead to the accumulation of fat within the liver. Insulin resistance also plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of NAFLD.
Obesity is closely linked to insulin resistance. The cells of our body become less responsive to insulin which results in high blood sugar levels.
Other factors contributing to weight gain with fatty liver:
Hormonal imbalance: The fatty liver disease has the ability to disrupt hormonal balance and affect one's hormones. Hormones are solely responsible for better body functioning, appetite, and metabolism. Adipokines are hormones that fat cells secrete, and they are not properly regulated in people with NASH. These alterations may result in increased hunger and different fat-storing habits, which may accelerate weight gain and obesity.
- Inflammation: NASH is also accompanied by inflammation in the liver. When this happens, inflammatory molecules are released into the bloodstream. These molecules may contribute to systemic inflammation that can affect various organs, including the brain! Once a person reaches the chronic inflammation stage, it can become extremely difficult to control hunger and satiety. This can potentially lead to overeating, unwanted cravings, and weight gain!
How can you break the cycle and prevent it?
There are many simple yet effective strategies to prevent and manage weight gain with a fatty liver. Some of these are:
Leading a balanced life: One must follow a diet plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A balanced diet will simply help you manage weight and reduce fat accumulation in the liver. Not just a balanced diet but one must also exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity helps improve insulin sensitivity and aid weight loss.
Managing weight: For most people dealing with NAFLD, weight loss is necessary to improve the health of the liver. Once the weight is managed and well-balanced, the inflammation can reduce and go back to normal.
Taking health supplements and medications: Consuming certain nutritional liver cleanse supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and choline, will help you have a balanced liver health. You can also contact your physician to provide you with proper medical treatment. Always remember to follow the doctor’s orders.
Limiting substance abuse: It is extremely important to avoid the consumption of alcohol as it can worsen the condition. Not just alcohol but any sort of substance abuse can strain your liver to further damage.
- Monitoring your body regularly: One must regularly do liver functioning tests and check-ups to see the changes and progressiveness of the disease.
How to manage weight naturally?
Balanced diet: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet with liver support pills.
Physical exercise: It is important to stay physically fit and exercise for at least 150 minutes two or more days a week.
Reduce stress: Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain. Thus, stress management is very important.
Get mindful sleep: Focus on improving the quality of your sleep and aim for at least 8-9 hours of quality sleep daily at night.
- Drink a lot of water: It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Even though NAFLD is one of the other reasons for weight gain, there could be many other factors that can cause obesity too.
Several factors like insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance, alcohol intake, improper diet, no physical activity, overeating, and other diseases can also lead to weight gain.
There is a complicated and reciprocal association between fatty liver disease and weight increase.
The likelihood of developing NAFLD is increased by obesity and excessive weight gain, and fatty liver may promote additional weight gain through hormonal imbalances and inflammation.
A balanced diet with natural foods, frequent exercise, and gradual, sustainable weight loss are necessary for breaking this cycle.
Early detection and treatment of NAFLD patients are crucial to halting disease development and lowering the risk of life-threatening consequences.