By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Approximately 2500 Australians die from fatty liver disease each year and this figure is set to soar. Fatty liver occurs when excess fat accumulates inside liver cells. This means normal, healthy liver tissue becomes partly replaced with fatty tissue. The fat starts to invade the liver, gradually infiltrating the healthy liver areas, so that less and less healthy liver tissue remains.
The fatty liver has a yellow greasy appearance and is often enlarged and swollen with fat. This fatty infiltration slows down the metabolism of body fat stores, which means that the liver burns fat less efficiently, resulting in weight gain and inability to lose weight. However some people can have a fatty liver without being overweight. They are often people with polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance or a family history of type 2 diabetes.
The problem is, around 90 to 95 percent of people with a fatty liver don’t get any symptoms, so they don’t even know they have one. This is a major problem, because sometimes once it’s detected, significant damage has already occurred to the liver. In some cases fatty liver can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis or liver failure. There is also a strong association with fatty liver and cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.