Diabetes affects millions across the globe daily. Diabetes is a long-term disease that effects the way your body creates energy from foods. There are two different types of Diabetes: Type 1, an autoimmune disease in which the body produces no insulin at all and Type 2, in which the body produces some but not enough insulin. If you have type 2 diabetes, current research suggests that it is important to monitor your liver for a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Fatty liver and diabetes
Excess fat accumulates in the liver and over the stomach leading to this disease. If the fat accumulation is because of reasons other than consuming too much alcohol, it causes a different form of liver disease called NAFLD. When fat accumulates to more than 5-10% of the liver’s weight, the disorder is termed chronic fatty liver disease. One of the many functions of the liver is blood sugar regulation, but if there is fat accumulation in the liver, the liver becomes less responsive to insulin leaving too much glucose in the blood, which can lead to type two diabetes.
Having type 2 diabetes raises your risk of having a more severe form of NAFLD known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In this case, liver fat triggers harmful inflammation that creates scar tissue. This building up of scar tissue over time can lead to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. However, many people who have NAFLD or NASH do not know these facts. About three in four patients with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes have too much fat in their liver, and about half of them have this inflammation and scarring, but in many cases, they are unaware of it until it is too late. If the liver condition progresses to liver cirrhosis, it becomes irreversible, so it is important to take action if you are diagnosed with fatty liver.
Symptoms of NAFLD
Unfortunately, NAFLD has few symptoms, making it tough to diagnose. Some people feel pain in the upper right part of the abdomen just below the rib cage. If you have diabetes, it is important to keep monitoring the health of the liver through liver function tests and ultrasound.
If NAFLD and NASH are caught early, it is possible to stop and in some cases reverse them, mainly through weight loss. Studies show that losing even 10% of your weight can halt NAFLD and NASH.
Strategies to protect against fatty liver
Putting in a plan to lose weight could be the one thing needed for you to repair the damage caused to your liver. Just losing 10% of your weight can reduce liver fat and decrease inflammation in the body.
Include wholesome foods, unprocessed foods and more vegetables and fruits in your diet. Fruits and vegetables help in detoxifying the liver and supports liver health. Limit fats to healthy nut oils and olive oil while reducing trans fats and refined oils.
Avoid foods high in sugars like carbonated beverages, fruit drinks and sweets. Sugars can take a toll on the liver, so it is important to avoid all kinds of sugars when you are trying to take care of the liver. Sugars can also increase the bad fats in the body leading to more damage to the liver.
Exercise is strongly recommended to reduce weight. Make sure you put in at least 150 min a week of exercise or as per your doctor’s advice.
Alcohol or smoking puts a huge pressure on the liver. It is better to limit your alcohol content or completely avoid it.
Finally, if you have diabetes already or if there is a family history, check if you have fatty liver. If you need to lose weight, put that on highest priority as losing weight is your greatest tool against liver disease.