Author: Courtney Conner MS, RD, LD
Posted: April 29, 2022
What is Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is a buildup of extra fat in the cells of the liver that is not caused by alcohol. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat, but an increased level of fat in the liver can cause a more serious form of NAFLD, called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It is estimated that about 100 million individuals in the United States have NAFLD. In addition, NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in children and has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
There is a clear level of progression when it comes to liver disease, and it can progress slowly or quickly depending on the level of damage and the lifestyle surrounding the individual. The progression from healthy liver to need for transplantation is described below:
Healthy liver – A healthy liver removes harmful substances from our body by breaking them down into smaller byproducts. These byproducts are then removed by the body through the feces or the urine. A healthy liver has a small number of fatty cells and can grow back, or regenerate, when damaged.
Hepatitis – This occurs when your liver becomes inflamed due to excessive alcohol use, virus, trauma, infection, or drugs and toxins. This included diseased hepatitis like hepatitis A, B or C. When persistent inflammation occurs, then scarring, or fibrosis, starts to occur.
Fibrosis – This is when your liver starts to scar due to damage due to repetitive damage or long-lasting inflammation. Over time, the scars in the liver will continue to build and replace healthy tissue. However, when treated early and successfully there is a chance that your liver can heal itself at this stage of damage.
Cirrhosis – This is the final stage of fibrosis and occurs when your liver is severely scarred and permanently damaged. With cirrhosis, there is no treatment.
Liver cancer – Cirrhosis and hepatitis B are the leading risk factors for primary liver cancer. Finding and diagnosing liver cancer as soon as possible is essential and offers more treatment options like transplant and cancer resection.
Liver transplant – The removal of unhealthy liver and replace with a whole or portion of a healthy liver from a donor. Since the liver is the only organ in the body able to regenerate, a transplanted segment of a liver can grow to normal size within a few months.
NAFLD is considered part of the reversible stages of liver disease. This means that if you are in these early stages of liver disease, you can work on changing your lifestyle and get treatment options that can possibly reverse damage. Cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure are serious conditions that can threaten your life. Once you have reached these stages of liver disease, your treatment options may be limited.
How can you help prevent NAFLD?
While the treatment options are limited once the disease progresses, there are ways to prevent the disease and reverse early signs of damage through lifestyle changes, supplementation, and medication. Lifestyle changes refers to the positive change in diet and exercise. By doing the following things, your body is going to not only feel better and more energized, but your liver will also start breaking down the fatty cells that cause damage, helping to improve your liver health and reverse disease progression.
Consume at least 3 servings of vegetables and fruits a day
Lose weight if you are overweight or obese by talking with a dietitian and calorie reduction of at least 500 calories
Lower your cholesterol or triglycerides by decreasing the number of processed foods, whole milk dairy, and animal products
Control your diabetes by minimizing sugar and carbohydrate intake
Exercise regularly by incorporating resistance and aerobic training – aiming for 150-200 minutes of exercise a week with at least 2 days of resistance training
In addition, supplementation can have a positive effect on NAFLD prevention by helping support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reducing body weight. Nafliva LiverSupport is a dietary supplement that was created to target the liver and help with disease prevention. The main ingredient is Pu’er Tea (PTE) and has been clinically studied around the world for its benefits with body composition, body mass index, and lipid profile improvement. This powerful herbal ingredient combined with the benefits of milk thistle, sunflower lecithin, choline, Vitamin D, and folic acid creates a remarkable dietary supplement for liver health. Benefits of taking LiverSupport daily include increased energy levels, healthy cholesterol levels, improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and an improved immune system.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common liver diseases in America. It is also a disease that can be prevented and reversed if caught in its early stages. Disease prevention is accomplished by lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, and supplementation with LiverSupport to improve liver health from the inside out.
1. American Liver Foundation. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Updated September 22, 2021. Accessed April 25, 2022. https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/the-progression-of-liver-disease/#1636537435983-e05d6098-0ad7
2. Kwak, Min-Sun, and Donghee Kim. “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and lifestyle modifications, focusing on physical activity.” The Korean journal of internal medicine vol. 33,1 (2018): 64-74. doi:10.3904/kjim.2017.343
3. Jensen, G. S., Beaman, J. L., He, Y., Guo, Z., & Sun, H. (2016). Reduction of body fat and improved lipid profile associated with daily consumption of a Puer tea extract in a hyperlipidemic population: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clinical interventions in aging, 11, 367–376. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S94881