When it comes to liver disease, the typical culprits is often alcohol. However, even if you don't drink, other risk factors for disease like being overweight or obese can put you at risk for developing fatty liver disease or the more aggressive nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In both cases, your liver takes on too much fat, causing potentially serious complications. While there is no cure for fatty liver diseases, there are ways to help control the problem.
If you have fatty liver disease, or concerns about the health of your liver, consult with your doctor first before making changes to your diet or lifestyle for an individualized plan that best matches your health needs.
Unfortunately, there's no cure for fatty liver disease. But getting regular exercise and drinking plenty of water, at least 8 cups a day, can help keep your body healthy and prevent a fatty liver or halt the disease process.
Fatty Liver Basics
Fatty liver disease is a common disorder that occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver. If left unchecked, this fat can continue to develop until the fat triggers inflammation in the liver. Inflammation is damaging to the liver tissue and can often cause scarring, affecting how well the liver functions. According to MayoClinic.com, there is no exact specific cause for this disease, but items like high cholesterol, gastric bypass surgery, high triglycerides, malnutrition, obesity, rapid weight loss and diabetes may play a role in the development of the disorder.
Effects of Exercise
Currently no cure exists for fatty liver disease, but certain habits can help keep the disease under control or prevent the disease from developing. One of these habits is exercise. Exercise helps with the disease in several ways. First, it helps you control your weight by burning off excess fat, which can prevent obesity. Exercise can also help increase levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which in turn lowers your triglyceride levels and "bad" low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Exercise also helps prevent and control other diseases associated with fatty liver disease, such as type 2 diabetes.
Effects of Water
Water can play an important role in controlling a fatty liver. Water is needed for the liver to function properly. When your body becomes dehydrated, it can affect your metabolism and your body's ability to break down fat for cell use, instead of storing the fat in your liver. Aim to include at least 8 oz. of water eight to nine times a day, according to MayoClinic.com recommendations.
Other Available Treatments
Several other lifestyle alteration and treatments can be used to control or prevent fatty liver disease, such as a change in calorie and fat consumption from diet and overall weight loss. In serious cases, prescription drugs like orlistat or thiazolidinediones may be used to help treat fatty liver or the underlying causes of fatty liver. Also, in many cases, a fatty liver can be caused by excessive alcohol ingestion. Stopping your alcohol use can help the liver heal and return to more normal functioning.
- MayoClinic.com: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse: Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
- UCSF Medical Center: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- British Liver Trust: Fatty liver and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
- Drugs.com: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Medications.