Today, you’ll discover the top 7 signs and symptoms of fatty liver. Keep reading till the end to learn the steps you can take to reverse fatty liver disease. First, what is fatty liver disease?
The liver is a vital organ with many functions, such as the metabolism of nutrients, production of bile and urea, removal of toxins from the blood, and storage of some vitamins and minerals.
When there is excess fat in the liver, an inflammatory response is triggered. This causes antibodies to attack and damage liver cells. Damaged liver cells cannot function like healthy ones. So the liver cannot detox and perform its other tasks, causing more fat to accumulate.
This condition is called fatty liver disease, or “hepatic steatosis”. Fatty liver is the most common form of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Small amounts of fat accumulation are harmless, but not when it exceeds 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s weight. As the liver becomes fattier, it can cause fibrosis and cirrhosis – the severe scarring and irreversible stage of liver disease.
Now that we know why fatty liver is dangerous, let’s get into the 7 signs and symptoms of this disease.
Number 7. “Higher Blood Liver Enzymes.”
The liver produces several enzymes to metabolize nutrients, drugs, toxic chemicals, and other metabolites (products of metabolism). Liver Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) are the main enzymes that show liver damage. Studies showed that 25 to over 50% of fatty liver disease patients have elevated blood AST and ALT levels. An increase in blood ALT levels is more specific to liver damage, while AST can also be increased because of thyroid and muscle diseases. An increase in these enzymes could be a sign of fatty liver disease.
Number 6. “Weakness & Fatigue.”
If you lack self-motivation for physical and mental activities, experience muscle weakness, or feel sleepy, you may have fatigue because of fatty liver disease.
In one study done in 2008, fatigue was higher in patients with fatty liver disease. That’s not surprising, considering the liver’s central role in energy metabolism. The liver communicates with the skeletal system, intestines, nervous system, and adipose tissue, where fats are stored. As fat builds up in the liver, this communication is disrupted, and the muscles, intestines, and nerves start to not function properly.
Number 5. “Edema & Abdominal Pain.”
Fat accumulation causes inflammation of the liver cells. Inflammation causes immune cells to attack tissue. Damage in tissue can cause fluid retention and edema. You may feel pain or discomfort in the upper right side of your abdomen where the liver is located. Another reason for pain could be bile duct stones that accumulate because of fatty liver disease.
Number 4. “Appetite & Weight Loss.”
In liver damage, especially in the severe stage of fat accumulation, hormones that regulate hunger become disrupted. Leptin is a hormone that modulates appetite and reduces food consumption. When leptin levels are above the normal average, it can cause loss of appetite and lead to weight loss.
Number 3. “Gastrointestinal Issues.”
Gastrointestinal issues involve the digestive system organs – mouth, stomach, and intestines. In a study done in 2019, gastrointestinal symptoms of patients with liver cirrhosis were assessed. The most common were abdominal bloating with nearly 50%. Also, 13.3% of patients experienced diarrhea, and 8% of patients experienced constipation.
Number 2. “Nausea & Acid Reflux.”
A study done in 2009 showed that gastroesophageal reflux was more prevalent in patients with fatty liver disease. Also, these patients experienced more heartburn and belching.
Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition in which stomach fluid move back up to the esophagus. It can cause nausea and vomiting. Another reason is that toxins and waste products cannot be eliminated by the liver, and as a result, damage the stomach and esophagus mucosa, resulting in reflux.
Number 1. “Bruising & Bleeding.”
The liver produces a hormone TPO that regulates production of platelet, which is a type of blood cell that helps to clot to stop bleeding. Platelet production is decreased in cirrhosis, the severe stage of fatty liver disease. When blood cannot clot, bruising, even bleeding, can occur in injury. A person may also experience jaundice, itching, and swelling.
There you have it! The 7 symptoms of fatty liver. If you observe these symptoms, get a blood test, ultrasound, or biopsy to be sure about your liver function. However, this man-made disease can only be healed through diet and lifestyle changes.
Now, here are “8 things” you can do to prevent and reverse fatty liver disease.
Number 1. “Regular Exercise.” Aerobic exercises such as walking, running, cycling, Zumba, can increase fat-burning and decrease the synthesis of fats in the liver.
Number 2. “Limit alcohol consumption.” Alcohol increases fat accumulation in the liver. When alcohol is broken down in the liver, an enzyme converts ethanol to a toxic compound called acetaldehyde, which is carcinogenic or cancer-causing.
Number 3. “Consume fiber rich-foods.” Fiber can lower your blood lipids – triglycerides, and LDL, known as “bad cholesterol”. Try to add at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables to your diet. You should also eat other fiber-rich foods such as beans, lentils, and gluten-free whole grains.
Number 4. “Cut Out Sugar.” Sugar can cause weight gain and spike blood glucose levels, especially in individuals with prediabetes and diabetes. High blood glucose levels lead to fat accumulation in the liver. Avoid refined sugar, commercial fruit juice, and packaged foods and snacks. See our video “Top 13 Foods That Cause Inflammation”.
Number 5. “Cut Out High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).” HFCS is as bad, or maybe worse than sugar. There are no enzymatic steps to limit fructose to fatty acid conversion in the liver. When large quantities of fructose reach the liver, excess fructose is directly converted to fat. Read nutritional labels and avoid packaged foods that contain HFCS. Names that disguise HFCS include glucose-fructose syrup, maize syrup, tapioca syrup, fruit syrup, and crystalline fructose.
Number 6. “Maintain a Healthy Weight.” Even losing 10 percent of body weight can decrease fat accumulation and help turn around fatty liver disease.
Number 7. “Avoid Medication where Possible.” The liver is crucial in eliminating toxins and waste products and in drug metabolism. Taking unnecessary medication can exhaust liver cells and worsen the inflammation that occurs with fatty liver disease.
Number 8. “Have a balanced diet.” Most notably, having a healthy and balanced diet is crucial. Because we convert foods to energy in the liver, any excess of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, are converted to fat in the liver, and some fat accumulates. Include foods that help the liver detox, such as cruciferous vegetables, artichoke, turmeric, walnut, milk thistle, and coffee. Watch our video “Top 10 Foods to Reverse Fatty Liver” for a full explanation of liver detox foods.
Next, Who Is At Risk For Fatty Liver Disease?
If you’re are obese, older than 50, have a family history of liver disease, have sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood lipids, or consume alcohol (over 14 drinks per week), you are at higher risk of fatty liver disease.
Do you have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease? If “Yes”, click the link below to learn about the 3 pillars to ensure outstanding liver health and a 4-week plan to rejuvenate your liver function.