The primary job of the liver is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. It also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. If care is not taken, mainly when other chronic conditions exist, damage to the liver can occur. Diabetes is one of those chronic conditions. Diabetes increases your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Without proper diet and lifestyle changes, fatty liver disease will progress to NASH and lead to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring of the liver. It’s February, and with all the love in the air, it is never too late to show your liver some love by taking the right steps to keep it healthy.
How Diabetes Affects the Liver
About half of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will develop fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease happens when a chronic buildup of fat occurs in the liver. Everyone’s liver has a little bit of fat, but with this condition, there is a lot. The excess fat acts as a toxin to the liver cells, causing inflammation that can develop into NASH. NASH is the halfway point in the progression to cirrhosis, which is where irreparable damage is done to the liver. Poorly managed diabetes can make fatty liver disease worse.
How to Prevent NASH/Fatty Liver
Fatty liver and progression to NASH can be prevented with a few easy steps:
- Eat a Healthy Diet– Choose a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
- Maintain Healthy Weight– Reduce the number of calories you eat each day if you are overweight or obese.
- Exercise– Keep active by exercising almost every day. If you have never regularly exercised, check with your doctor first.
If you do have diabetes or are overweight, you are at a higher risk of developing liver disease. A fibroscan is a non-invasive and painless way to check the health of your liver. It can help detect fatty liver and scarring all without the need for a liver biopsy. Those determined to have fatty liver may be eligible for upcoming clinical studies that may help. To learn more, click here.