ADVOCATE!Advocate is special section where we will shine light on issues neglected or given little attention in mainstream circles. A description of these deserving issues will be provided along with resources where you can learn more and/or support worthy causes that have significant potential to affect our health and well-being.
NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE
Most of us know something about Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease caused by excessive alcohol use. Yet, few of us know much, if anything, about Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Since it hasn’t gained much attention in national media, it’s played the role of a silent invader, one with an impressive footprint. It’s time to shine the light on NAFLD.
WHAT IS NAFLD?
NAFLD is described as a condition in which the liver has difficulty breaking down fats that leads to a build up of fat in your liver. While it isn’t normal for fat to accumulate in your liver, it is generally believed that excessive liver fat resulting from NALFD causes few complications in the majority of people.
However, in some persons, accumulation of fat in the liver causes inflammation. Inflammation may impair the liver’s ability to function and may lead to cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. When cirrhosis occurs, the scarring may become so extensive that the liver no longer functions properly. This condition can lead to liver failure.
IF NAFLD IS NON-SYMPTOMATIC IN MOST PERSONS, WHY SHOULD WE BE ALARMED?
In 2001, 1 out of 100 liver transplants resulted from NAFLD. By 2010, 1 out of 10 liver transplants were performed because of NAFLD (Zezos, 2014). This disease was virtually unknown even 15 years ago. It is estimated that 1 out of 10 American children now have NAFLD, along with 40 million adults. An alarming number of babies are being born with livers similar to those of alcoholics with fatty liver disease.
Due to a genetic predisposition, Mexican-American boys have a significantly higher chance of having NAFLD (Welsh, 2010; Jin, 2014). The suspected culprit is sugar, especially sugar associated with highly processed drinks and foods. In 2015, the very first trial is planned by the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) to ascertain if removal of sugars and too many carbohydrates from the diet can reverse NAFLD in children. At present, too little is known and more research is needed to elucidate the causal relationships of NAFLD.
The NuSI is a non-profit organization with the mission of reducing the economic and social burden of obesity and obesity-related chronic disease by improving the quality of science in nutrition and obesity research.
You may follow and/or contribute to their important work at www.NuSI.org.
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