What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

11th October 2019

The Liver: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

With over 500 crucial functions, our liver plays a pivotal role in our bodies. Our liver even has the incredible ability to regenerate and replace itself. But what happens when our liver becomes so damaged that the harm can’t be reversed?

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is one condition that can cause irreversible liver damage if undetected and left untreated. It starts with the build-up of fat in the liver and can lead to scarring (known as fibrosis) and cirrhosis, where the scarred liver eventually shrinks and the risks of organ failure and cancer can increase.

One in three of us may have early stages of NAFLD. While NAFLD can be diagnosed through an ultrasound scan, it may not be detected until there is significant, potentially irreversible, liver damage. If detected early enough, any initial damage is reversible.

Research into NAFLD:

Guts UK actively funds research into NAFLD. Led by Dr Marc-Emmanuel Dumas at Imperial College London, the team there are trying to answer questions about key markers of fatty liver disease that can help identify, treat and prevent NAFLD.

How to prevent NAFLD:

Although we’ve all heard it before, a healthy lifestyle can be one of the best ways to prevent the onset of NAFLD. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising is the best way to prevent NAFLD. Generally, the more overweight you are – the more likely you are to develop the disease. However, genetics are another factor that can play a role.

The Alarming Impact of Liver Disease in the UK:

A recently published report from the British Liver Trust has shone a light on the huge impact that liver disease has in the UK.

In a public poll by the charity, the public perceptions of liver disease were explored and found that 91% of respondents cited alcohol as the biggest risk factor for liver disease. Only 58% recognised that obesity and being overweight increased the risk too.

It’s time to talk about liver disease and take practical measures for our digestive health.

Our Healthy Eating & The Digestive System leaflet gives a good insight into our digestive system and how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Guts UK continue to fund crucial research into conditions of the gut, liver and pancreas thanks to the kindness and generosity of our incredible supporters. Click here to see how you can support our important work.
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