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Can you get rid of fat in the liver?

Written by: Dr Derek Chan
Published:
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

Fatty liver disease is a very common condition now affecting up to a quarter of the population, and surprisingly, many of these people may not even realise they have it. Dr Derek Chan, a consultant gastroenterologist explains what this disease is and how you can treat it.

What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease is a condition caused by too much fat in the liver. It is within a spectrum from simple fat deposition in the liver progressing to inflammation and causing irreversible scarring of the liver. It’s normal for there to be some fat in the liver but when it exceeds more the 10% of the liver’s own weight, then serious complications can occur.

 

Over time, fat tissue can slowly build up in the liver. This can be caused by a poor diet of too many fatty foods and sugary drinks. It can also be caused by drinking too much alcohol over a long period, which is known as alcohol-related liver disease.

 

Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body and helps to process nutrients from food and drink and filter out harmful substances from the body. Some people who develop a fatty liver can go on to develop other complications if it’s not treated, such as cirrhosis.

 

How is fatty liver disease detected?

Most people who have fatty liver disease have very few or no symptoms at all, but some people might experience fatigue and malaise, and occasionally, discomfort around the upper right area of your abdomen. As the symptoms aren’t very obvious, it is normally picked up incidentally when having liver blood tests or a scan of the abdomen for other reasons.

 

What is the treatment for fatty liver disease?

A healthy diet and lifestyle is the key to improving things. A healthy cholesterol level and good blood sugar control if you are diabetic goes hand in hand with improving this condition. Being and maintaining a healthy weight is also very important, as does reducing your alcohol intake.

 

These following health changes are the first steps in controlling your fatty liver disease:

  • Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Lose weight by reducing the number of calories you consume
  • Exercise regularly and lead an active lifestyle
  • Lower your cholesterol by choosing a healthy diet and exercising more often
  • Manage your diabetes properly and stay in control of your blood sugar levels
  • Protect the health of your liver by avoiding things that will put extra stress on it, such as alcohol.

 

Unfortunately, scarring of the liver cannot be reversed, so it is important to try to prevent the condition from progressing by following this advice before irreversible damage is done.

 

Can supplements help this condition?

There has been a lot of research looking at supplements to improve fatty liver disease, but unfortunately, nothing convincing has yet been found.

 

If you are worried about the health of your liver and you would like help from a doctor, visit Dr Derek Chan’s profile and book a consultation. He also offers an e-Consultation service: a secure video/messaging service that allows you to connect with top specialists from anywhere.

By Dr Derek Chan
Gastroenterology

Dr Derek Chan is a consultant gastroenterologist with a wealth of experience, particularly for function bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He also has expertise in managing reflux, change in bowel habits and abdominal pain. Dr Chan currently practices at Spire St Anthony's Hospital in Sutton and at Ramsay Ashtead Hospital, Ashtead.

Dr Chan did his undergraduate studies at St Bartholomew's and The Royal London Hospital Medical School, graduating in 2003. Afterwards, he undertook his postgraduate training within the South West Thames area, spending numerous years conducting research at St George's Hospital, London. This research investigated the role of diet and gut bacteria on inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr Chan has experience in all areas of gastroenterology, and pays great attention to giving fantastic patient care, as recognised by his recent Certificate of Excellence award from IWantGreatCare.

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