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Metabolic syndrome and fatty liver go hand in hand
As is well known, high alcohol consumption can cause lasting damage to the liver and make it fat. In the meantime, however, non-alcoholic fatty liver has become the most common form of fatty liver disease. This also occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. Experts from the German Liver Foundation explain why this is the case.
High performance organ liver
Our liver is an important metabolic organ in our body. Around 2,000 liters of blood are passed through the high-performance organ every day. Substances such as sugar, fat, protein building blocks (amino acids) and vitamins are stored, used, converted or broken down. Together with the kidneys, it is responsible for detoxifying the body.
Common disease fatty liver
Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) has now become a widespread disease. According to estimates by the German Liver Foundation, around one in four people over the age of 40 are affected by this liver disease - with an upward trend. Many don't even know that they have a non-alcoholic fatty liver, because the disease often runs without complaints. Only non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, feeling of fullness or pressure in the right upper abdomen sometimes indicate fatty liver.
Fatty liver - often a result of the metabolic syndrome
As the experts at the German Liver Foundation report, the number of cases of illness rises sharply. One reason for this: non-alcoholic fatty liver often occurs as a result of the so-called metabolic syndrome, a condition that affects every third person. Doctors speak of a metabolic syndrome when several unfavorable health conditions appear at the same time and fire each other. These include being overweight, high blood sugar, high blood lipid levels and high blood pressure.
What are the risks associated with fatty liver?
"If not treated, non-alcoholic fatty liver can lead to fatty liver inflammation (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH for short)," report the liver experts. Cirrhosis or liver cancer can develop from this condition - diseases that can be potentially fatal. The German Liver Foundation warns that people with fatty liver die more often from heart diseases.
Why do so many people get fatty liver?
Today's lifestyle for many people favors the development of fatty liver. In the guideline on non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, age, an increased BMI, an increased caloric intake and the presence of insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes as well as lack of exercise are mentioned as risk factors.
Nutrition as a risk factor
"The imbalance between calorie intake and consumption creates four vascular-damaging risk factors," emphasizes the German Liver Foundation in a disease profile. People who continuously supply more calories to their bodies than they burn accumulate the excess energy in the form of fat. Not only visible on the stomach, but also in the liver. Particularly high-sugar and high-fat foods as well as sweetened drinks favor the development of a non-alcoholic fatty liver. In addition, being overweight also increases the risk of developing diabetes.
Movement as a risk factor
Many Germans suffer from a pronounced lack of exercise. A lot of work is done sitting these days. For many people, daily movement only takes place between bed, office chair and sofa. The guideline recommends regular moderate exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling. Several case-control studies have shown that exercising for at least 30 minutes, exercised two to three times a week, has a protective effect against fatty liver.
Drugs as a risk factor
Since the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, many substances from medication are broken down here. Some of them can harm the liver. According to the German Liver Foundation, drugs with the active ingredients cortisone, estrogen, amiodarone, diltiazem, valproate, tamoxifen and high doses of paracetamol can have a negative effect on the liver. If in doubt, you should have your liver function checked by a doctor and, if necessary, seek advice on a possible alternative. (vb)