Manage Your Liver

Research finds metabolic syndrome worsens fatty liver

Research finds metabolic syndrome worsens fatty liver

Decades before, fatty liver was considered a non-threatening disease because of its relatively rare occasions. As the economy continued to bloom in developed countries, modern style of living such as unhealthy food habits and sedentary lifestyle has taken its toll on our health, especially the liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a tricky condition to deal with because of its asymptomatic nature and its potential progression to serious liver problems. But now it is evident that people with NAFLD may have one more health concern that could accelerate the progression of liver disease, and that is metabolic syndrome.


What is metabolic syndrome?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increases one’s risks of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and liver problems, and the risks factors include:

  • Excess belly fat
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar level
  • High triglyceride level (high blood fat level)
  • Low levels of good cholesterol

Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person is diagnosed with 3 or more of the above conditions. According to The American Heart Association (AHA), about 23% of adults in the U.S. are affected by metabolic syndrome.


How common is it in liver patients?

Based on the research data published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 90% of people with NAFLD have at least one risk factor of metabolic syndrome, and 33% have all of the five features.


Why is it the case?

One of the reasons why metabolic syndrome often goes unnoticed in NAFLD patients is that both diseases share similar causes.

Obesity, excessive intake of sugar (which could lead to insulin resistance), and physical inactivity are the main reasons why the diseases develop.

When the liver becomes fatty, it produces too much glucose and triglycerides – the key components that lead to the development of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome can impact the liver in severe multifaceted ways. It poses a higher risk of development of liver cancer, in some cases even skipping the normal cirrhosis progression. It also leads to a higher mortality rate, regardless if it is caused by a malfunctioning liver.

What makes the situation more dangerous is that, NAFLD can contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome, and metabolic syndrome can further worsen the existing liver condition. As one of the articles published in Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine describes, NAFLD is “now considered the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome”.


It’s common, but it’s also manageable

The good thing about NAFLD and metabolic syndrome is that they are reversible. Since they are the cause and effect of one another, improving one condition will help reverse the other, too.

The most direct and effective way for NAFLD patients to manage both problems? Give the liver the care and attention that it deserves. Losing weight, especially in the abdomen area, can help lose liver fat tremendously. Cutting back on high-fat and high-sugar diets is also a fool-proof way to prevent liver inflammation. After all, maintaining good liver health is the ultimate, direct solution for NAFLD patients to fight against liver diseases, and to keep various metabolic levels (blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol) in control.

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