Fatty Liver- What is it and can diet and fitness help

Liver is a vital and the most voluminous organ in the human body that plays a crucial role in several body functions. Situated in the abdomen right under the ribs, liver filters toxins, secretes bile, collects and redistributes the nutrients and produces digestive enzymes. Liver also synthesises protein and keeps a check on our cholesterol levels, besides helping us ward off infections by removing pathogens from the blood. Liver’s performance, however, gets affected by some external factors like a poor diet and a lack of physical activity. Fat gets accumulated in the liver, if we regularly eat a rich and heavy diet comprising processed carbohydrates and fats. In the absence of exercise, liver cannot even redistribute the nutrients provided by the meals. If you are overweight, it’s even bad news for the liver.  

What is Fatty Liver: The condition also called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens when excess lipids (or fat) get built up in the liver cells, leading to scarring of the liver. When the fat accumulation crosses beyond five to ten per cent of the liver’s weight, it’s considered to be a fatty liver.  Having a high calorie diet overtime impacts the liver’s ability to process and metabolize fat, leading to accumulation of excess fat in the liver. Having too much alcohol is usually not the major reason behind fatty liver. A few other conditions that cause a fatty liver are: Obesity, Genes, Diabetes, Side effects of medication, high BP, fats in the blood and Quick Weight Loss. If not given immediate attention, Fatty liver can progress into a more serious condition called steatohepatitis and even further into cirrhosis of the liver. 

Symptoms of Fatty Liver:   There are no major symptoms in most cases of fatty liver. But you may experience abdominal pain (in the upper right corner), excess fatigue, weakness, brain fog, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss and dark urine. Sometime there are no perceivable symptoms at all. If you have a sedentary lifestyle and consume an excess of fatty and processed food, you are at risk of having a fatty liver. While fatty liver can strike at any age, its most commonly seen in people who are 40 years of age and above. 

Can Diet and Fitness help: According to the doctors at OneFitplus, the best strategy to beat fatty liver is to overhaul your diet opting for a healthier version and committing to a regular exercise regime. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight should become your immediate priority to reverse the liver’s condition. 

Say a complete No to food items made of processed flour including biscuits, cakes, cookies and other junk food like samosas, pizza, pasta, burger etc. Cut back on sugar, excess salt, alcohol and saturated fats like red meat from your daily diet as much as possible. Switch to a diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, fresh and seasonal fruits and green vegetables. They are low in calories, make you feel full faster, supply a daily quota of energy and also keep your gut healthy. Also add Omega 3 fatty acids foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, tofu and fish to your diet. Other items that are considered useful to correct a fatty liver include Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Tea, Lemon, Turmeric, Garlic, Dandelion, Amla (Indian Gooseberry), Papaya and Licorice Root. 

The role of exercise and overall physical fitness in treating fatty liver is tremendous. Try to incorporate both cardio exercises and weight training into your fitness regime to improve metabolism, gain muscle mass, acquire stamina and eventually, lose weight. Committing to some form of exercise like brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming and strength training for about 30 minutes daily on most days of the week will go a long way to improve your health. You will notice that within a few weeks of being physically active, metrics like your insulin sensitivity and triglycerides will show improvement. With many of your metabolic issues under control, your liver functioning will also begin to show betterment. 

Even if you lose 5 per cent weight, it will be enough to begin losing the accumulated fat in the liver, whereas if you are able to go further, you can substantially reduce the inflammation and correct the damage done to the liver, say the doctors at OneFitplus while cautioning that its best to go gradual while trying to lose weight.

Medication and Surgery are the other tools to cure fatty liver but its best to alter your lifestyle with a combination of right diet and exercise to get a healthy liver back. Make regular efforts to keep your diabetes and cholesterol levels also in check. The Fatty liver condition is reversible as liver has the great quality to regenerate quickly. Just remember to remain active, correct your poor eating habits and maintain a healthy weight to prevent as well as cure fatty liver disease. 

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