NAFLD or Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases: Definition and Causes
When the liver is composed of 5 -10% of fat by weight, it means you are suffering from NAFLD or fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic).

The function of your liver is to create bile so your body can digest the fats, break down the hormones, clean your blood, and keep minerals and vitamins stored.

But when you are having fatty liver disease, your liver can’t break down the fats extracted from your blood adequately. Fats accumulate and so your liver becomes larger. NAFLD is the most frequent liver disorder worldwide.

Risk factors and causes of NAFLD are:

• Age
• Diabetes
• Alcohol consumption
• Genetics
• High triglycerides
• High cholesterol
• Obesity
• Malnutrition and poor diet
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Thyroid disorders
• Some medications

Experts claim that if you are suffering from inflammation and damage of the cells in the liver aside from NAFLD, you are suffering from NASH or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Around 4% of the Americans are suffering from NASH.

Experts from the National Health Institute estimate that around 25% of adults from the western countries are affected with NAFLD. Even though the incidence is smaller in eastern countries, it is slowly raising.

Also, the incidence increases with age, even though it is more common at earlier ages because of the diet high in fats consumed by most Americans.

Excessive Fructose Is a Primary Cause of Fatty Liver Disease

In order to prevent or alleviate this disease you should eliminate fructose – the sugars contained in everything from corn syrup and fruit juice to honey and agave syrup. It is dangerous when it is consumed in excessive amounts – which is what most Americans do.

In many cases fructose is similar to alcohol in regard of the damage it can cause to your body and liver. Unlike the glucose that can be utilized by almost every cell in the body, fructose can be metabolized only by the liver, since it’s the only organ that has a transporter for fructose.

How it is working: fructose goes to the liver. If you consume a typical Western diet, you eat great amounts of this type of sugar, so fructose damages the liver much like alcohol. Experts claim that fructose is almost identical to alcohol when it comes to the metabolic damage it causes.

The well-known doctor Robert Lustig from the University of California claims that fructose is a “dose-dependent and chronic liver toxin.” Much like alcohol, it is directly metabolized into fat and not cell energy, like the glucose.

Dr. Lustig says there are 3 similarities between fructose and the fermentation by-product, ethanol (or alcohol):

• The metabolism of fructose in the liver is very similar to alcohol, because they both are substrates for transforming dietary carbohydrate in fat that promotes resistance to insulin, dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of fat in your bloodstream) as well as fatty liver

• Fructose goes through Mallard reaction in combination with proteins, creating superoxide free radicals that result in liver inflammations that similar to acetaldehyde, which is an intermediary ethanol metabolite

• With the stimulation the ‘hedonic pathway’ in the brain both indirectly and directly, fructose can create habituation, and probably dependence; also similar to ethanol.

Just One Sugary Drink a Day Can Increase the Risk of NAFLD

Sugary drinks, including soda, fruit juice, fruit punch and lemonade are great sources of fructose in the American diet. A recently conducted study from the Tufts University discovered that this may be increasing the health risks because the people who drank at least 1 sugary drink a day had greater risk of NAFLD and liver damage.

Experts claim that such sugary drinks are one major factor why even kids are developing this disease at alarming speed. The longer you suffer from NAFLD, the more likely it will progress into more sever disease such as NASH and liver fibrosis cirrhosis.

A recently conducted study at the Hepatobiliary Nutrition and Surgery, linked HFCS consumption with the severity of fibrosis in the patients suffering from NAFLD. So, it is concerning that kids are developing so early in the lives.

These facts about the pediatric NAFLD are very disturbing:

• About 10 % of the children in the US suffer from NAFLD
• 1 % of 2- 4-year-old children and 17% of 15- 19-year-old children are suffering from this disease
• Over 38 % of the obese children are having NAFLD
• Children that have NAFLD are at greater risk of poor prognosis and complications and a need for a liver transplantation in adulthood

How Much is too Much Fructose?

The truth is that the majority of the overweight Americans have a degree of leptin and insulin resistance. This includes people that have diabetes, and people with high blood pressure and high level of cholesterol (these are at greater risk of NAFLD).

This means you need to be careful, so if you are in this category, it is wise to restrict the intake of fructose to 15 grams a day. Don’t forget, fructose is not just found in the sugary beverages; it is also found in numerous processed foods and “healthy” and natural sweeteners such as agave.

People with normal weight as well as relatively normal health may also have a benefit from limiting the consumption of fructose to about 25 grams per day, especially from foods that contain sugar or high-fructose syrup, because the effects of high sugar intake may be having effects that accumulate in time.

We know that fruits also contain fructose but they also contain numerous beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. Obese people or people suffering from

NAFLD, need to be careful with the consumption of fruits that have greater fructose content.

Fruits like limes and lemons have minimal amount of fructose and are pretty safe. Other fruits, like grapefruit, berries and kiwi also have relatively small amount of fructose and higher levels of nutrients.

But, fruit juices and dried fruits that contain greater amounts of fructose should be consumed relatively rare.

The well-known Dr. Johnson claims that with regular exercise, smaller amounts of fructose may actually be beneficial, since fructose will speed up the absorption of glucose in the gut and boost muscle performance.

However, this depends on the way your body can metabolize fructose.

The bad news is that the body normally can’t absorb the fructose well. However, the more fructose you consume, the more the transporters will be activated. Thus, the body absorbs more fructose.

For example, lean children tend to absorb only about half of the consumed fructose, whereas the obese children suffering from fatty liver disease absorb almost 100%.

Symptoms of NAFLD

Common symptoms of NAFLD include:

• Fatigue
• Upper abdomen pain
• Weight loss
• Jaundice – with yellow discoloration on the mucus membrane or skin
• Swelling (referred to as edema and ascites) due to the lack of protein production
• Mental confusion
• Increased bruising

Consult your doctor to confirm that these symptoms are associated with fatty liver disease. The symptoms may also be linked to numerous other diseases.

8 Remedies for NAFLD

1. Weight Loss

Losing weight is among the best ways to treat this disease because it lowers the fat in the whole body, including your liver. And drink a lot of water when starting your weight loss regimen because this way the metabolic toxins generated will be excreted with the urine.

2. Dietary Changes

Dietary changes are essential if you are suffering from NAFLD. Like we said, the usual American diet is high in fats that have a damaging effect on your body.

Including bananas, sweet potatoes, ginger root as well as raw vegetables in your diet will help your eliminate the fat accumulated in the liver. Because alcohol consumption can contribute to the development of NAFLD, severely limit or eliminate alcohol.

3. Black Seed Oil

Various studies have confirmed that black seed oil slows down NAFLD progression and lowers the risk of more serious complications.

4. Turmeric

This is among the healthiest spices. Turmeric will help the body eliminate the inflammation caused by NAFLD and it will improve the digestion. Experts recommend consuming supplements, starting from 450 milligrams of turmeric or curcumin a day.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that will help your body in the fight against inflammation caused by NAFLD. It can also boost the immune system and it is very beneficial for the heart, which can be overwhelmed when you are suffering from NAFLD.

6. Wolfberry

For centuries, wolfberry was used as supplement in the traditional Chinese medicine. It’s a strong antioxidant, stabilizer of the blood glucose, and inhibitor of tumors. The Chinese medicine claims that it has healing powers for your liver and eyes. Wolfberry can restore the natural enzymes and reduce oxidative effects in people with NAFLD.

7. Resveratrol

Resveratol is a compound contained in red grapes. It is a very effective antioxidant and a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Studies have discovered that is very effective in the fight against inflammation as well as oxidative stress in people with NAFLD.

8. Milk Thistle

Numerous published papers reveal that milk thistle, silybin and silymarin, can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in cases of NAFLD.

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