While there is still much to learn about fatty liver disease, there is a growing recognition that beneficial bacteria in the gut can play a major role in preventing fat accumulation in the liver.
Experts estimate that a quarter of American adults have fatty liver disease. Whether or not those with this condition have received a diagnosis yet, awareness of fatty liver prevention is growing. The top recommendations for preventing fat accumulation in the liver include eating a healthful, high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular physical activity. Although these two lifestyle choices are extremely important for liver health, they are joined by another popular wellness trend. Typically suggested for individuals who have been inundated with antibiotics or for people with vague gastrointestinal discomfort, probiotics also appear to battle the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Along with the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes in Western countries, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has risen steadily. Encompassing two conditions that affect people who drink little or no alcohol, NAFLD can be mild or it can progress to a more severe stage:
1. Steatosis – A mild condition, steatosis is a simple fatty liver where there is rarely any liver damage.
2. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – When the accumulation of fat in the liver is accompanied by inflammation, fatty liver has escalated to NASH. Fibrous tissue can form with NASH, which could progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Although experts still have a lot to learn about NAFLD, it is typically diagnosed in people who are overweight, diabetic or pre-diabetic and who have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A person is considered to have a fatty liver when the fat makes up at least 10 percent of his or her liver. Especially if addressed during the first stage, steatosis, it is possible to reverse NAFLD. At the very least, instituting lifestyle changes that support a healthy liver can help prevent a fatty liver from getting worse.
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