Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver diseases (AFLD) are important causes of liver disease worldwide with prevalence ranging from 10% to 30% in various countries. While alcohol dependant disease is well known among people, NAFLD is now emerging as a leading cause of liver disease and very soon be the leading indication for Liver transplantation.
While alcoholic steatosis is reversible by alcohol abstinence, non alcoholic requires a thorough investigation followed by a strict lifestyle and dietary change. It has been a predominant disease in western countries associated with other metabolic conditions, mostly Diabetes mellitus and Dyslipidemia. In India paradoxically it is seen in low BMI patients called LEAN NAFLD for which the major culprit remains THE DIET. Indian Diet is deficient in proteins and fiber content and rich in carbohydrates, fat and spices which accounts for ongoing fat accumulation in the liver.
Fatty liver presents as wide spectrum ranging from mild to moderate symptoms like upper abdominal pain, bloating to dreaded symptoms like jaundice, ascites and encephalopathy. The fear of the disease is its extreme end resulting in hepatocellular carcinoma. Many patients being unaware of the hazards of fatty liver are not treated and may lead to cirrhosis of liver for which they present to the hospital and are exhaustingly investigated.
Treatment options are dietary and lifestyle modification, medical, endoscopic and surgical with transplantation being the final option in end stage disease.
Though many medical and endoscopic procedures are now emerging, none of them have found to be effective enough to reverse the disease. The only effective treatment option is change in diet and lifestyle. Reducing the calorie intake , increasing fiber rich and protein rich food and avoiding fried and processed foods helps to reverse the disease. Fad diets are to be avoided. Workout for 45 mins per day at least for 5 days per week helps in reducing the disease burden.
It is time people realise the importance of liver and fight for its health with a well planned diet.