Fatty liver disease encompasses a spectrum of conditions caused by excess fat accumulation within liver cells. Often, this condition emerges as an anomaly during routine liver function tests. While it's typically asymptomatic, it might signal underlying health issues.

Primary Causes

  1. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The severity hinges on the nature, amount, and duration of alcohol consumed.
  2. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Commonly linked to metabolic issues like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and the hepatitis C virus.

The Science Behind Fatty Liver Disease

The liver primarily stores energy. An undue intake of certain foods leads to a fat overload in the liver. While obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, high alcohol intake, drastic weight loss, and malnutrition often contribute, some patients encounter fatty liver disease without these conditions.

Risk Factors

  • Obesity: Approximately 20% of obese individuals face fatty liver disease.
  • Overweight: People with a BMI ranging from 25-30 stand at risk.
  • Diabetes.
  • Excessive Alcohol Intake.
  • Ultra-sweet Foods: Consuming overly sweet foods and drinks, including certain types of green tea.

Disease Progression

  1. Stage 1: Fat accumulation occurs without inflammation or scarring.
  2. Stage 2: Fat buildup induces inflammation. Untreated inflammation over 6 months can lead to chronic liver issues.
  3. Stage 3: Prolonged inflammation and scarring result in gradual liver cell destruction.
  4. Stage 4: Extensive liver cell damage yields functional abnormalities, progressing to cirrhosis and potential liver cancer.

Recognising Symptoms

Most patients with fatty liver disease remain symptom-free. While some might experience fatigue, nausea, or upper right abdominal pain, these symptoms aren't typically attributed to a fatty liver. Many only unearth their condition during routine health screenings or other medical evaluations.

Diagnostic Measures

  • Blood tests.
  • Ultrasound scans.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Biopsy to extract liver tissue for analysis.

Managing and Preventing Fatty Liver Disease

  • Aim for a steady weight loss, ideally 0.25-0.5 kg per week, until achieving a healthy weight bracket.
  • Commit to regular exercise, integrating both aerobic (like brisk walking) and anaerobic (like light weight lifting) routines, at least five times a week.
  • Opt for a balanced diet rich in fibre, low in fat, and energy-efficient.
  • Adhere to diabetes and cholesterol management through medication, dietary choices, and exercise.
  • Refrain from over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Prioritise regular health check-ups.