The liver is the largest organ in our body, located in the upper right portion of the belly under the ribs. It is responsible for functions vital to life. Almost every metabolic function of our body is linked with this organ. A little amount of fat can be stored in liver cells, and if the same fat becomes excessive in the liver cells, then it’s called fatty liver and may develop more serious complications. Before a decade or so, the complication was common in Western countries, but now it’s being observed that it affects about one in every 50 people in the Kashmir valley.
Technically, fatty liver is the accumulation of triglycerides and other fats in the liver cells. The amount of fatty acid in the liver depends on the balance between the processes of delivery and removal. In some patients, fatty liver may be accompanied by hepatic inflammation and necrosis. Fatty liver is a severe medical condition and can’t be ignored even if it’s asymptomatic. Grading of diffuse hepatic steatosis on ultrasound has been used to communicate the extent of fatty changes in the liver and the condition has been graded under three stages based on the spread and severity. In3rd grade, fat cells contain more than 66% of the liver’s overall weight. Diagnosed at stage 3, the 1-year survival rate is 80%. It’s during stage 3 that a liver transplant may be recommended. There’s always a risk a person’s body will reject the transplant, but if accepted, only 80% of transplant patients survive more than 5 years past their operation.
Considering the topography of the Kashmir, it seems next to impossible to accept the fact of sudden increase in lifestyle diseases, where there are healthy eating habits of organic foods in a healthy environment, but sadly the results are opposite of that. NAFLD has worst hit the urban areas where every one in five obese persons is suffering from it, and it is proceeding invasively to the countryside. Sudden change in the lifestyle of people and their habits of eating have contributed more to this disease. People have shifted from a healthy organic diet to unhealthy eating habits. People used to eat homegrown vegetables and cereals, but over the past several years new eating habits have clashed with our biology to create major shifts in body composition. It is clear that large shifts in access to technology have reduced energy expenditure at work in the more labour-intensive occupations, such as farming and mining, as well as in the less energy-intensive service and manufacturing sectors. Changes in transportation, leisure, and housekeeping relate to reduced physical activity.
There are no symptoms for NAFLD, so it is called a silent disease. It is usually identified incidentally on ultrasonography or fibroscan, usually causes no signs and symptoms, but when it does, they may include fatigue, pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen, abdominal swelling (ascites) and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
We can’t get away with the question, “How to prevent and treat fatty liver disease?” So far there’s no particular treatment for fatty liver except by surgery and transplant, but depending on the stage of the disease, however, some people can reverse it, by burning more calories on routine bases. When trying to lose weight, it’s important to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you normally do or by exercising more. Some people choose to combine the two, eating a little less while being more physically active, which can make NAFLD worse. A healthful way to lose weight gradually is with a balanced diet and regular exercise.