Feature


Alcohol - The only cause of liver disease?

Most people are aware of the common health problems which can be caused from being overweight or obese. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes being the main issues that are likely to be mentioned by doctors, the media and family and friends.
One health issue that many people do not think of is liver problems. Many believe, although they may be overweight, they do not drink enough alcohol to have liver disease. Sadly our liver is affected by other factors than alcohol alone and excess weight or obesity can increase the chances of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Our liver is involved in several very important functions within the body. These include helping to remove harmful products from the body such as alcohol, poisons and medicines, creating bile which is used to break down fats in the body so they can be absorbed and storing fuel from our meals so they can be released gradually as our blood sugar levels fall. It is therefore of great importance that our liver is functioning to its best ability to keep us healthy.
NAFLD is often split into four stages. The first is simple fatty liver which means that over time excess fat has accumulated in the liver cells. At this stage NAFLD usually does not cause any problems however in some people this develops to cause inflammation of the liver. In more progressed cases scar tissue may also develop which is known as fibrosis. If lots of scar tissue begins to replace normal liver tissue, a condition known as cirrhosis occurs which can eventually lead to liver failure.
It is important to be aware that, although only a small amount of people with fatty liver will progress to cirrhosis, developing any form of NAFLD is putting you at increased risk of ill health and should be avoided or treated as quickly and effectively as possible, bearing in mind that many people with NAFLD have no symptoms at all.
The main risk for fatty liver disease is being overweight or obese. Additional risks include age and other obesity related health issues such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high levels of triglycerides in the blood. Unfortunately as many of the health problems related to obesity are linked, if you have one your risk of the others increases further. Therefore the major treatment for fatty liver disease is weight reduction alongside treatment for any other linked conditions you may already have.
Simple food swaps such as using low fat or sugar free alternatives, and incorporating small amounts of exercise into your diet may not seem like a lot but could make a huge change to your risk of NAFLD, cardiovascular disease and your overall health.
As always prevention is better than treatment so it is important to act sooner rather than later to reduce risk factors, however if you are worried about your health make sure you visit your GP.
If you have any questions or need any hep or information you contact me at: emma@zestwellness.co.uk

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