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HomeHealthIs non-alcoholic fatty liver disease reversible?

Is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease reversible?

Nonalcoholic steatosis, also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells (hepatocytes) in individuals who consume little or no alcohol. It is considered a spectrum of conditions that range from simple fatty liver (steatosis) to a more severe form known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which involves inflammation and damage to liver cells.

This steatosis is closely related to metabolic syndrome, which includes conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. It is thought to result from an imbalance between the uptake and synthesis of fatty acids and their oxidation and export by the liver.

Obesity, diabetes and blood - among the possible causes

The exact cause of the condition is not fully understood. Risk factors include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, genetic and environmental factors can also contribute to its development.

Nonalcoholic steatosis usually causes no noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, it can lead to complications such as NASH, liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis (severe scarring) and even liver cancer. Therefore, it is very important to detect and treat the disease early. This will prevent possible progression.

Diagnosis involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, blood tests, imaging studies (such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI), and sometimes a liver biopsy to confirm the presence and severity of liver damage.

Treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Treatment for nonalcoholic steatosis focuses on lifestyle changes to improve metabolic health. This involves losing weight through a combination of a balanced diet, regular exercise and managing underlying conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Medicines may be prescribed to control associated conditions or to deal with specific symptoms. There is no specific drug approved for the treatment of NAFLD itself.

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What to do to regain health

Nonalcoholic steatosis is usually reversible, especially in the early stages. With appropriate lifestyle changes and management of underlying diseases, fatty liver accumulation can be reduced, inflammation can be controlled, and the liver can return to normal function.

Here are some important steps that can help the healing process:

Weight loss, especially when accompanied by a reduction in visceral fat (fat around the organs), is critical to improving liver health. Even moderate weight loss from 5-10% can produce significant improvements in liver fat and inflammation.

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is important. Focus on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Limit your consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, saturated fats and trans fats.

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Regular exercise: Participating in regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, and reduce liver fat. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, along with strength-training exercises.

Control underlying diseases

If you have conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it is important to manage them effectively with medication. If necessary, make lifestyle changes as well. This can help prevent further liver damage and promote recovery.

Avoid alcohol and certain medications

Although this steatosis is not caused by alcohol consumption, it is recommended to avoid or limit alcohol intake as it can worsen liver damage. Some drugs can also cause liver toxicity. They should be used with caution or avoided if possible.

It is important to note that the progression and reversibility of steatosis may vary between patients. In some cases, especially if nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or advanced fibrosis has developed, liver damage may be more extensive and may require specialized medical treatment. 

Editor Diana Georgieva

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