Drinking too much alcohol can cause fat to build up in the liver but this is not always the cause. Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD) describes a build-up of fatty deposits in the liver that is not linked to alcohol intake. Much is still understood about NAFLD but the condition is commonly seen in obese people.
NAFLD often progresses without detection, with no symptoms typically present in the early stages.
However, as fat builds up in the liver, especially over a long period of time, it can cause inflammation.
As British Liver Trust explains, this inflammation can cause liver damage that may eventually give rise to symptoms.
Chemicals and waste products normally dealt with by the liver start to build up in the body and can cause symptoms such as a build-up of fluid in the tummy, the BLT warns.
Bupa explains: “This can reverse some of the build-up of fat and even some of the fibrosis in your liver.”
According to the health body, it’s important not to lose weight too quickly though, because this could cause problems with your liver.
Exercise offers a surefire way to lose weight but it may also confer direct benefits for NAFLD management.
“It may also help to reduce damage to your liver even if you don’t successfully lose any weight,” adds Bupa.
“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” warns the Mayo Clinic.
“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and NASH, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”
A wide range of diseases and conditions can increase your risk of NAFLD, it adds.
- High cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Metabolic syndrome
- Obesity, particularly when fat is concentrated in the abdomen
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.