How’s your liver?
At the American Diabetes Association’s conference in San Francisco, we learned how people with diabetes are twice likely to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – meaning it wasn’t caused by hitting all those happy hours.
So what’s the big deal?
Let’s review some basic concepts.
Fatty liver happens when the liver gets clogged up with fat cells. If you are overweight, the extra fat cells end up in many places in your body, including in your liver. These cells are then at risk for becoming stiff (known as fibrosis). That fibrosis can actually cause those cells to die which in turn is a risk for liver cancer. Yikes!
So without getting further into detail about all that goes on at the cellular level, here’s what you can do to prevent problems – even reverse the condition if you catch it early enough.
1. Ask your provider about getting a lab test for your liver enzymes (specifically the “ALT” blood test, which is short for alanine transaminase). This helps you to understand the health of your liver.
2. If you are carrying extra weight, losing up to 10% of your weight can reverse the inflammation in your liver and prevent damage.
3. Cut out added sugar.
4. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
We only have one liver and it does so much to keep our blood clean (as well as so many other functions). Your daily decisions about what to eat or about how much physical activity you get will help show your liver some love, too!