What is Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease means that you have extra fat inside your liver. This extra fat keeps your liver from doing a good job of removing toxins from your blood. People who drink too much alcohol may have fat in their liver. When the fatty liver does not come from drinking too much alcohol, it is called non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

There are 2 types:

  • Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):This type is when you have fat in your liver. But your liver is not damaged. It is also called metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD).
  • Non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH):This type is when you have fat in your liver. You also have signs of inflammation and liver cell damage.

What causes Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

  • Healthcare providers don’t know the exact cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Who is at risk for Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

  • Children and young adults can get this disease. But it is most common in middle age. Risk factors include:
  • Being overweight or obese, especially having too much belly fat (central obesity)
  • Having high blood fat levels (either triglycerides or LDL cholesterol)
  • Having type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Having high blood pressure

Functions of the liver

  • All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic. Some of the more well-known functions include the following:
  • Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
  • Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
  • Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
  • Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy) and to balance and make glucose as needed
  • Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
  • Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
  • Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea (urea is an end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine)
  • Clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
  • Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells. If there is an accumulation of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow.
  • When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood.
  • Bile by-products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces.
  • Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine.


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