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Beer belly with no beer? Watch out for liver health [술 마시지 않아도 통통하다면 ‘간 건강’ 살피세요]

Recently, metabolic diseases related to obesity are increasing rapidly in Korea, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is also showing a high prevalence with 16-33%. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has not attracted much attention because of its good natural course, but it is gaining interest after it has been shown that some patients may progress to terminal liver disease such as cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma.
# Non-alcoholic fatty liver can worsen fatty liver symptoms and liver cirrhosis

Non-alcoholic fatty liver is a disease in which the liver contains a lot of fat, similar to people who drink a lot of alcohol, even if they do not drink at all or only drink small amounts (less than 1 bottle of soju per week for women and less than 2 bottles of soju per week for men). Most cases are asymptomatic, and resulting blood tests show abnormal liver functions (AST, ALT).

Risk factors for non-alcoholic liver disease include obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroidism, and the like. Non-alcoholic fatty livers vary greatly in the degree of disease, including mild fatty liver with only fat and no hepatocellular damage, severe hepatitis and persistent hepatitis, and even cirrhosis (liver cirrhosis) with ascites or jaundice.

Diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver requires a blood test to confirm that there are no other possible causes of the liver and an ultrasound to look at the form of the liver (or computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)). Fatty hepatitis with inflammation of fatty liver is more likely to progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer in the future, so liver biopsy may be necessary for diagnosis.

In order to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver, the factors related to fatty liver such as diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidemia should be treated. If you have diabetes, you should be treated for good blood sugar control. If you have hyperlipidemia, you should be treated for it.

# The most effective remedy is weight loss

Since most nonalcoholic fatty liver patients are overweight or obese, active weight loss, diet, and continuous aerobic exercise are the most effective treatments. In the case of weight loss, a sudden weight loss can worsen fatty liver, so set a goal of slowly losing 10% of your current weight in three to six months.

For your diet, avoid eating late-night snacks and go for boiled foods rather than fried foods. Avoid excessive amounts of high-calorie foods such as chocolate, candy, cookies, cakes, ramen noodles, pork belly, ribs and ice cream.

Work out aerobics such as fast walking, biking, jogging, swimming, hiking, aerobics, or dancing, for at least 30 minutes and at least three times a week.

So far, the best way to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver is through weight loss through diet and exercise. Some of the drugs used to improve diabetes resistance and anti-oxidants (vitamin E) have been reported for short-term treatment. However, long-term treatment effects are not clear as of yet.

Written with the help of Dr. Lee Sol Jae, Gastroenterology Dept., Nasaret International Hospital
Original Article by Kiho Ilbo
Published 2019 Apr 03


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