Manage Your Liver

Understanding NAFLD – What are the available diagnosing methods and treatment options?

Understanding NAFLD – What are the available diagnosing methods and treatment options?

Being the leading cause of chronic liver diseases in the USA and Europe, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is gradually becoming a common health issue worldwide. According to a recent research, the global prevalence of NAFLD is estimated to be 24%, with South America and the Middle East having the highest rates of NAFLD patients. 

NAFLD refers to the accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who only drink little or no alcohol, and there’s a huge correlation between the disease and obesity. Often known as the “silent killer”, NAFLD is difficult to be diagnosed in the early stages because of its asymptomatic nature. 


Current diagnosing methods for NAFLD

Since NAFLD does not have much symptoms shown in the early stages, most of the time it is suspected in overweight or obese patients who have mild elevations of liver enzymes in their routine blood tests. Imaging studies such as liver ultrasound can also help diagnose NAFLD by seeing if the patient has accumulation of fat in the liver. 

The most accurate way of detecting NAFLD is a liver biopsy as it provides all the essential information for diagnosis. While it is the most reliable way, doctors don’t usually recommend it since NAFLD is an early stage of liver disease.

In this case, does it mean patients need to wait until when the disease progresses to later stages to be able to do something about it?


Possible new biomarker for NAFLD

A recent study conducted by a team of researchers from Britain, Italy, Spain, and France have found that the raised levels of a compound, named phenylacetic acid (PAA) that is released by a certain type of gut bacteria, was linked to the excess fat build-up in the liver and also the early onset of NAFLD. 

The group compared the medical data of 100 women who were diagnosed with NAFLD and obesity but without diabetes with that of a group of healthy individuals and came up with such findings. This research result suggests that PAA could be considered as a new NAFLD biomarker, making early diagnosis of NAFLD just one simple blood test away.

It was also noticed that as NAFLD advanced, the gut microbiome (gut bacteria environment) became poorer and less diverse. While there is definitely a strong link between the development of NAFLD and a poor gut microbiome (raised levels of PAA in this case), it is still unclear which is the cause and which is the effect. But nonetheless, this study definitely opened a new possibility for future clinical research on the early diagnosis of NAFLD by targeting the gut microbiome.


Treatments for NAFLD

When NAFLD is not diagnosed or treated, there is a chance of the disease developing into cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Even though not a majority of patients would have their simple fatty liver disease progressed to cirrhosis, patients should always be careful when they are diagnosed with NAFLD. Aside from losing weight, taking natural liver supplements that have proven anti-inflammatory properties can also help bring liver function back to normal, thereby reducing the chance of NAFLD progressing into something much more serious.


If you have any questions regarding how we can help restore your liver health, please do not hesitate to contact our support team for more information about liver protection.

  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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