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Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)- Could This Be Your Issue?

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Your liver is such an important organ.  It is a key player in digestion (especially of fats), regulating cholesterol, hormone balance and detoxification (just to name a few of its jobs).  

There is an incredible rise in the number of people with mild to severe liver dysfunction.  In my clinic, it’s not uncommon for me to see clients in their 30’s and 40’s with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  This is so sad… It’s insane… And it’s completely PREVENTABLE!  

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)- This is a condition (as the name implies) is characterized by damage to the liver not with alcohol but with excessive sugar and fat— more than the liver can keep up with.  We were not created to eat so much super-stimulating unnatural foods.  (No where in nature do you find donuts, pop tarts, or pizza…)

One of my main concerns about those with NAFLD is that people start developing this condition years before they might actually feel symptoms.  By the time symptoms come, there’s already a great deal of damage done.  

A few symptoms to look for (as NAFLD advances):

  • Vomiting blood
  • Feeling weak (with simple daily tasks)
  • Severe/debilitating muscle cramps
  • Fluid in abdomen (often referred to as ascites)
  • Feeling cold even when the temperature is warm
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Low appetite 
  • Pain in the liver area (upper R abdominal region)
  • Elevated liver enzymes (these are the AST and ALT numbers in your blood work)
  • Respirations may be abnormal as NAFLD is associated with cardiac arrhythmias.2  Respirations are commonly effected because patients with NAFLD are also likely to have poor pulmonary function as a result of the liver dysfunction.3

Obese populations are at higher risk for NAFLD since excess weight most often comes with a degree of liver dysfunction.1  This is due to the excess fat in the blood getting congested in the liver as it seeks to “keep up” with the amount of processing that it’s having to do.1   NAFLD is also associated with heart disease.4. However, do note that you can have a damaged liver and not be overweight at all.  

NAFLD is a very serious condition.  Your liver will regenerate to a point but eventually, if enough of it is scarred (usually referred to as cirrhosis), it can be difficult to get the proper function back. In that case, the only option is typically a liver transplant.  Depending on the degree or progression of the disease, it may or may not be able to completely regenerate itself.

If you have severe symptoms (throwing up blood, severe pain, etc.), it is important to get the emergency room right away.  

Do you notice that you are always cold at temperatures that others feel is comfortable?  Are you always wanting to turn the heat up/air conditioning down, use blankets and warmer clothes when others are comfortable in shorts and t-shirts?  Your body doesn’t make mistakes.  There’s always a reason and every symptom has a root cause.  

No matter what health challenge you are facing, please don’t wait until there’s an emergency…  Make changes NOW!  You’re worth it.  If you need help we would love to work with you.  

Reference List:

1. Fabbrini E, Sullivan S, Klein S. Obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Biochemical, metabolic, and clinical implications. Hepatology. 2010. doi:10.1002/hep.23280

2. Ballestri S, Lonardo A, Bonapace S, Byrne CD, Loria P, Targher G. Risk of cardiovascular, cardiac and arrhythmic complications in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2014. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i7.1724

3. Peng TC, Kao TW, Wu LW, et al. Association between Pulmonary Function and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the NHANES III Study. Med (United States). 2015. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000000907

4. Widya RL, De Mutsert R, Den Heijer M, et al. Association between hepatic Triglyceride content and left Ventricular Diastolic Function in a Population-based cohort: The Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity Study1. Radiology. 2016. doi:10.1148/radiol.2015150035

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a health care practitioner.  It is for educational purposes only.