Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) as the name suggests, is a disease of the liver which is becoming increasingly widespread in today’s world. It is a common liver problem which can occur in people who drink little or no alcohol. Fat gets deposited in the liver and this in turn causes inflammation and damage.
So how does fat get deposited in my liver?
A normal, healthy liver should contain no fat; however, some people can have fat deposits in their liver from triglycerides. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in our body. A certain amount of triglyceride is needed because the body uses this for energy, but high triglycerides can be harmful for the heart and liver. One of the functions of the liver is to process the triglyceride and control their release. The liver combines triglycerides with special proteins called lipoproteins which are then circulated through the blood stream. When the amount of triglycerides in the liver increases, this flow is interrupted and secretion from the liver slows down. This then leads to the build up of fats in the liver cells.
Why is fatty liver harmful?
Studies show that although this is a common disease and often causes no harm, it can become dangerous for people who have had this disease over a considerable period of time. It can lead to inflammation, swelling and tenderness of the liver or even fibrosis and cirrhosis.
What are the risk factors for Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
The risk factors for Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease are mainly obesity, alcohol consumption and diabetes. What is NASH as opposed to NAFLD? NASH stands for Non Alcoholic Steato Hepatitis. NASH is a more advanced form of NAFLD where there is inflammation in and around the fatty liver cells.