30 May Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Treating NAFLD – What can I do?
By Meghan Betts
There are currently no medical or surgical treatments to effectively treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, there are certain lifestyle changes that you can do yourself to help prevent, or reverse, the damage caused by fatty liver.
Lose weight SAFELY
Being overweight or obese is the most common risk factor for NAFLD, and one of the best ways to prevent or reverse the damage caused by fatty liver is to take steps to lose weight. However, rapid weight loss can also be dangerous, and may even contribute to NAFLD. In order to lose weight safely it is recommended not to lose more than ½ -1kg per week.
Heavy alcohol consumption is known to have harmful effects on the liver (as well as other organs) even in people without NAFLD. It is thought that alcohol consumption in patients with NAFLD may accelerate or worsen the disease and should be avoided, or at least limited as much as possible. Emerging observations suggest a possibility that complete alcohol abstinence may not be the best course of action, however, until there has been a more rigorous investigation into the evidence behind this NAFLD patients are advised to avoid any consumption of alcohol.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to help prevent or reverse the damage done by NAFLD. This includes eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, increasing the consumption of high-fibre foods, and minimising both sugar and salt consumption. Reducing intake of fried foods, processed foods and saturated fats is also advised.
Partake in regular exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for good health and studies show that even a small amount of exercise each week has benefits over none at all. Aim to do 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise – requires some effort but would allow for conversation to take place – or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise – breathing harder – each week. If you are unused to exercising, walking is an excellent, yet gentle, way to start.
Lower your triglyceride levels
People with NAFLD also commonly have elevated triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and levels can become elevated if you consume more calories than you burn, have a poor diet, do not exercise enough, drink alcohol or have other coexisting conditions such as obesity, diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle following the tips above can help lower your triglyceride levels, or you can talk to your doctor about medication options.
Have regular check ups with your doctor
Managing a disease such as NAFLD can be made easier with regular check ups by your doctor or liver specialist. In addition, if you have concurrent conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome it is essential that these are kept under control. Likewise, your doctor will be able to assist you in losing weight safely and developing a healthy lifestyle.