The holiday season is upon us, and it’s not considered the most wonderful time of the year for no reason! Holiday parties, gift exchanges, Christmas songs, secret Santas, holiday traditions, and Christmas gift buying and wrapping for loved ones are just a few of the reasons we love this time of year. However, this is also a time of the year when we see alcohol purchases and consumption rise. There are a lot of impacts of alcohol consumption, with some of the most prominent ones dealing with the liver. In fact, when people think about the health and longevity of the liver, most correlate that with alcoholism and the over-consumption of alcohol. However, there are liver issues that are brought on by something completely unrelated to alcohol. These are called non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases.

What is NAFLD?

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is essentially what it sounds like - a liver disease not caused by alcohol consumption which results in an excess of fat built up in the liver. There are two different types of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, with one being more serious than the other. The thing that differentiates these diseases is whether or not the fatty tissue gets infected. These infections can become serious and have very real impacts on the liver and the overall health of the body. The more serious condition is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In this condition, the liver swells and can become severely damaged.

Who Is Most Affected By Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Obesity is a symptom that is highly common in patients who are diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In fact, men over 50 are particularly susceptible, as are people with type 2 diabetes, patients with high blood pressure, those with high levels of blood fats and cholesterol, or people who have lost weight rapidly. NAFLD often doesn’t present with any obvious symptoms. Interestingly enough, it is usually discovered through unrelated tests conducted because of symptoms that are present in the patient. These symptoms may include an enlarged spleen or liver, enlarged blood vessels just under the skin’s surface, pain and swelling in the abdomen, jaundice, or enlarged breasts in men. If you have a combination of the risk factors and some of the symptoms, please contact GI Associates for a diagnosis.

Can I Lower My Chances of Getting NAFLD?

In short, the answer is YES!! In fact, there are certain lifestyle choices you can make to help prevent NAFLD. Some of the most important things you can do for your health are to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet. This holds true both for patients with NAFLD and for those who are at risk for developing it. Studies show that losing up to 5% of your body fat can decrease the fat in your liver, and losing up to 10% can lead to a reduced inflammation in the liver. Choosing a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can help with weight loss and ultimately improve the health of your liver. Exercising can also have a similar and profound effect, as the combination of healthy eating with consistent exercising can lead to improved health and weight loss.

If you have been diagnosed with NAFLD or are struggling with many of the symptoms, contact GI Associates today to discuss your options. Let’s start the new year with a plan to get you on a journey to good health and nutrition. You can do it, and your body will thank you for it!

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