Fatty food consumption alone does not cause fatty liver disease, according to Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson, a specialist with Abu Dhabi’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC).
“We need to be aware that a fatty liver has little or nothing to do with consumption of fatty foods or excess alcohol alone. The fat that can accumulate in the liver may come from other organs and is increased when the liver loses its ability to process or flush out fat from the system.
“The condition is mainly associated with being overweight, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high fat levels in the blood,” Professor Taylor-Robinson observed.
He said that for a long time doctors thought that fatty liver was promoted by the build up of excess fat in the liver cells as a result of fatty food consumption and a sluggish lifestyle. Fatty liver is also known as Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH) or Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
“Fats present in food can lead to obesity. However, the liver actually stores any excess food as fat, so excess sugars, protein and any calorie source gets converted to fat within the liver. If a person eats too much, even if they eat very little fat, they are at risk of fatty liver.
“Most people tend to develop fatty liver disease if they are overweight or have other diseases, such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Indeed, more than 80 percent of people with NAFLD are significantly overweight,” he warned.
On the other hand he advised that people with fatty liver disease have a high risk of developing diabetes and suggested that people diagnosed with NAFLD should give emphasis to shedding excess body weight by adopting a healthy diet as well as a regular exercise routine.
Professor Taylor-Robinson suggested that sweet, sugary foods should be avoided as they are an unnecessary calorie source. Meanwhile, he said that fresh fish is a good source of the right nutrition. Fish contains omega-3 triglycerides which are proven to improve NAFLD. He suggested fresh fish is eaten at least twice per week
“A healthy liver is essential to a healthy and happy life. It plays a significant role in the metabolism of fats, decomposition of red blood cells, detoxification, glycogen storage and plasma protein synthesis.
“If left untreated, fatty liver can lead to problems, such as liver scarring, cirrhosis, liver cancer and it is associated with increased risk for heart disease, stroke and early death.”
He said that while the best way to reduce the risk of developing NAFLD is to maintain a healthy weight, alcohol and other substances that could harm the liver should also be avoided.
Professor Taylor-Robinson, speaking via video link from Imperial College London at one of ICLDC’s on-going series of specialist lectures, warned that NAFLD is on the increase in the Middle East: “NAFLD is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease in the UAE and is a major threat to the health of the nation,” he concluded.
About Imperial College London Diabetes Centre
The Imperial College London Diabetes Centre is a state-of-the-art specialised out-patient one-stop facility that specialises in Diabetes Treatment, Research, Training and Public Health. Located in Abu Dhabi (next to the Zayed Military Hospital), ICLDC allows the highest level of specialised patient care, from first diagnosis to the continued management of all complications associated with Diabetes.
Imperial College London holds a renowned history and expertise in the study of Diabetes, bringing one of the leading medical academic institutions in the world to Abu Dhabi as a core working partner. Under ICLDC practices, one of the Centre’s primary objectives will be to provide continuing education for health professionals and the general public. For more details visit: www.icldc.ae
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