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10 Habits Causing Liver Damages, Know Symptoms, Prevention & How To Cure

Fatty liver disease is also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is a disease potentially leading to liver inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure.

Vivek Singh
Fatty liver (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)
Fatty liver (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)

When we think of liver damage, alcoholism often comes to mind as a leading cause. However, there is a growing concern about another condition that affects the liver, and it's not related to excessive alcohol consumption. Fatty liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is on the rise globally.

It's a condition where excess fat accumulates in the liver, potentially leading to liver inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure. While genetics and metabolic factors can contribute to NAFLD, lifestyle habits play a significant role. Today, we will explore 10 habits that can cause liver damage other than alcoholism.

10 Habits Causing Liver Damage

1. Poor Diet

A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats can contribute to fatty liver disease. Consuming too many calories, especially from fructose found in sugary drinks and snacks, can overload the liver, causing it to store fat.

2. Sedentary Lifestyle

Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, all of which increase the risk of fatty liver disease. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduce liver fat.

3. Obesity

Excess body weight, particularly around the abdominal area, is a major risk factor for NAFLD. Obesity can cause insulin resistance and promote the accumulation of fat in the liver.

4. Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells don't respond effectively to insulin. This can lead to increased blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the liver.

5. High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is often linked to NAFLD. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the liver, impairing its ability to function properly.

6. Rapid Weight Loss

Crash diets or sudden, extreme weight loss can trigger the release of fatty acids from fat tissue into the bloodstream, overwhelming the liver and potentially leading to NAFLD.

7. High Cholesterol

Elevated levels of cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, can contribute to fatty liver disease. Cholesterol can accumulate in the liver and lead to inflammation.

8. Excessive Fructose Consumption

High intake of fructose, often found in sugary beverages and processed foods, can increase fat production in the liver, contributing to NAFLD.

9. Medication Overuse

Some medications, such as certain corticosteroids, tamoxifen, and methotrexate, can harm the liver when used in excess or over prolonged periods.

10. Environmental Toxins

Exposure to environmental toxins, including pollutants, heavy metals, and pesticides, can affect liver function and contribute to liver damage.

Fatty Liver Symptoms

Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, occurs when there is an excessive accumulation of fat in liver cells. This condition can be caused by various factors, including alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome. Fatty liver is often asymptomatic in its early stages, but as it progresses, it can lead to more serious liver problems. Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with fatty liver:

1. Fatigue: People with fatty liver may experience unexplained fatigue and a general feeling of weakness.

2. Abdominal discomfort: You might feel mild discomfort or pain in the upper right side of your abdomen where your liver is located.

3. Elevated liver enzymes: Blood tests may reveal higher-than-normal levels of liver enzymes, such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST).

4. Enlarged liver: Your doctor may detect an enlarged liver during a physical examination.

5. Loss of appetite: Some individuals with fatty liver may have a reduced appetite.

6. Weight loss: Unintentional weight loss can be a symptom of more advanced fatty liver disease.

7. Weakness and confusion: In severe cases of fatty liver, particularly non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), symptoms can mimic those of more serious liver conditions, including jaundice, confusion, and mental changes.

8. Abdominal swelling: Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) can occur in advanced stages of liver disease.

It's important to note that fatty liver can progress to more severe conditions, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, and cirrhosis, which can lead to serious liver damage and complications. Some individuals with fatty liver may not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly. Therefore, early detection through regular medical check-ups and imaging tests, such as ultrasounds or MRIs, is crucial.

Fatty Liver Prevention and Management

Preventing and managing fatty liver disease involves making positive lifestyle changes:

Healthy Diet

Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit sugar, saturated fats, and processed foods.

Regular Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Weight Management

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to reduce the risk of NAFLD.

Limit Medication Use

Follow your healthcare provider's recommendations regarding medication use, and be cautious of potential liver-related side effects.

Minimize Environmental Toxins

Be mindful of your surroundings and take steps to reduce exposure to environmental toxins when possible.

Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Manage high blood pressure and cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes and medication as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Avoid Rapid Weight Loss

Focus on gradual, sustainable weight loss with the guidance of a healthcare provider or registered dietitian.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a growing health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. While genetics and metabolic factors can contribute to the condition, lifestyle habits play a crucial role in its development and progression. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and weight management, individuals can reduce their risk of fatty liver disease and protect their liver from potential harm. It's essential to consult with healthcare professionals for guidance and regular check-ups to monitor liver health.

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