My Diagnosis Of A Fatty Liver
Over 5 years ago I went for a scan to check for gallstones due to some considerable pain I was experiencing. As it turned out they could not find any gallstones but I did end up with a diagnosis of a very fatty liver. At that time I had never heard about a fatty liver I did not have a clue what it meant in the slightest.
The doctor back then didn’t really explain it either I was just told to change my diet but was never referred to a dietician. So what did I do? The same as most people changed my habits for about a month didn’t feel any different so ended up eating the same things as I did before. The fatty liver went to the back of my mind completely.
What Is A Fatty Liver?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term for a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It’s usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.
A healthy liver should contain little or no fat. It’s estimated that up to 1 in every 3 people in the UK has early stages of NAFLD where there are small amounts of fat in their liver. Early-stage NAFLD doesn’t usually cause any harm, but it can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis if it gets worse.
Having high levels of fat in your liver is also associated with an increased risk of problems such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. If detected and managed at an early stage, it’s possible to stop NAFLD getting worse and reduce the amount of fat in your liver.
Stages of NAFLD
NAFLD develops in 4 main stages.
Most people will only ever develop the first stage, usually without realising it.
In a small number of cases, it can progress and eventually lead to liver damage if not detected and managed.
The main stages of NAFLD are:
- simple fatty liver (steatosis) – a largely harmless build-up of fat in the liver cells that may only be diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason
- non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – a more serious form of NAFLD, where the liver has become inflamed; this is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population
- fibrosis – where persistent inflammation causes scar tissue around the liver and nearby blood vessels, but the liver is still able to function normally
- cirrhosis – the most severe stage, occurring after years of inflammation, where the liver shrinks and becomes scarred and lumpy; this damage is permanent and can lead to liver failure (where your liver stops working properly) and liver cancer
It can take years for fibrosis or cirrhosis to develop. It’s important to make lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from getting worse.
Am I at risk of NAFLD?
You’re at an increased risk of NAFLD if you:
- are obese or overweight – particularly if you have a lot of fat around your waist (an “Apple-like” body shape)
- have type 2 diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- are over the age of 50
But NAFLD has been diagnosed in people without any of these risk factors, including young children.
Although it’s very similar to alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), NAFLD isn’t caused by drinking too much alcohol.
Symptoms of NAFLD
There aren’t usually any symptoms of NAFLD in the early stages. You probably won’t know you have it unless it’s diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason.
Occasionally, people with NASH or fibrosis (more advanced stages of the disease) may experience:
- a dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right side of the ribs)
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- unexplained weight loss
If cirrhosis (the most advanced stage) develops, you can get more severe symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), itchy skin, and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy.
How NAFLD is diagnosed
NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out. But blood tests don’t always pick up NAFLD.
The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy. This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.
If you’re diagnosed with NAFLD, further tests may be needed to determine which stage you have. This may involve a special blood test or having another type of ultrasound scan (Fibroscan).
Some people may also need a small sample of liver tissue (biopsy)taken using a needle to have it analysed in a laboratory.
How To Get Rid Of A Fatty Liver
Treatment for NAFLD
Most people with NAFLD won’t develop any serious problems, but if you’re diagnosed with the condition it’s a good idea to take steps to stop it getting any worse.
There’s currently no specific medication for NAFLD, but making healthy lifestyle choices can help and treatment may be recommended for associated conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol) or complications.
You may be advised to have regular appointments with your doctor to check your liver function and look for signs of any new problems.
Healthy diet and lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the main way of managing NAFLD. The following can all help:
- lose weight – you should aim for a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 (use the BMI calculator to work out your BMI); losing more than 10% of your weight can remove some fat from the liver and improve NASH if you have it
- eat a healthy diet – try to have a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat, sugar and salt; eating smaller portions of food can help, too
- exercise regularly – aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week; all types of exercise can help improve NAFLD, even if you don’t lose weight
- stop smoking – if you smoke, stopping can help reduce your risk of problems such as heart attacks and strokes
NAFLD isn’t caused by alcohol, but drinking may make the condition worse. It’s therefore advisable to cut down or stop drinking alcohol. Get tips on cutting down on alcohol.
There isn’t currently any medication that can treat NAFLD, but various medicines can be useful in managing the problems associated with the condition.
For example, your doctor may recommend medication to treat high blood pressure, treat high cholesterol, treat type 2 diabetes and treat obesity.
If you develop severe cirrhosis and your liver stops working properly, you may need to be put on the waiting list for a liver transplant.
For adults, the average waiting time for a liver transplant is 145 days for transplants from recently deceased donors.
Alternatively, it may be possible to have a transplant using a section of liver removed from a living donor.
As the liver can regenerate itself, both the transplanted section and the remaining section of the donor’s liver are able to regrow to a normal size.
My Liver Before The Fast Fix And After The Fast Fix Documentary
So as you can see a fatty liver is not something you should ignore. I write about fatty liver in my book “It’s Not Rocket Science” which is available on Kindle Unlimited and also paperback on Amazon. For some reason the images are not in the printed version so I will show you those images below:
Liver Scan Images
A normal liver scan showing 2.3% fat content. If you look at the scale on the right-hand side you can see that the fat is shown as a dark red. The liver is the blue image on the left-hand side. This is a perfectly normal and healthy liver.
This second image is of my liver at the beginning of the trial which shows 22.7% fat. The difference between the two images is extremely noticeable. I had a very poorly liver.
The difference between the two is astonishing. This is my liver now showing 6.6% which is a huge difference.
I will share with you another scan image which shows my middle section from the side. The spine is at the right-hand side. As you can see there is a big difference in width and fat.
I hope these images help you to visualise what is possibly going on inside your body with regards to your liver but also that with some serious effort on your part you can indeed get your liver healthy again.
Now if you didn’t watch The Fast Fix Diabetes Documentary which was shown on ITV in June this year you won’t know how I managed to achieve this. Along with 4 others, we were put on a very low-calorie diet in an attempt to put our type two diabetes into remission. Not only did we do this but we also lost a lot of weight, inches, and reduced our fatty livers considerably.
If you want to follow the exact same plan we did then I will share this information with you now. We had 4 Exante diet meal replacement shakes a day for 12 weeks. I know it sounds hard but once you get to day 3 or 4 it starts to get a lot easier I promise you and the results are staggering.
At this point, I would like to say as with any diet do not follow this diet if you are on insulin or pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you click on the link below it will take you straight to the website where I get my products from. Also as a reader of my blog, this entitles you to use my money off voucher code which is TRACEY40. This code will give you a massive 40% off your shop which is nearly half price.
As usual any questions please message me or leave a comment. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and catch you soon.