The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease represents liver problems arising from excess accumulation of fat cells in the liver. It is deposited in the liver due to the overload of the fat cells in the body or due to excess sugar in the blood. It is a type of fatty liver disease that develops in people who drink little or no alcohol. Obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol level, old age, smoking, and high blood pressure are the risk factors of NAFLD.
Is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease A Progressive Disease?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a group of conditions characterized by the accumulation of fat cells in the liver, not triggered by alcohol abuse. It is one of the common causes of liver disease in western countries. It is harmless in the early stages but if it is left untreated, it may induce serious damage to the liver. (1)
There are two types of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Simple Fatty Liver- it is also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL). In this type of NAFLD, fat cells accumulate in the liver cells without or little inflammation or liver cell damage. It is the most common type of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It does not progress to liver damage and other complications. (1)
Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)- It is the type of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that causes inflammation in the liver and liver cell damage along with the accumulation of fat cells in the liver. It induces serious liver injury if not treated in time. It accounts only for 20 % of all cases of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is a progressive type of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in which it eventually causes liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. (1)
Alternative Treatments For Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
There is no alternative medicine proved until today that can cure non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Some research studies are in process that is investigating the use of natural compounds for this disease. (2)
Vitamin E- theoretically, it is known that Vitamin E and other vitamins act as antioxidants. They are helpful to reduce or neutralize the liver damage induced by inflammation of the liver. However, intensive research studies are required to prove this. (2) Some research studies state that vitamin E supplements have shown beneficial effects on the people who have liver damage rendered by Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease but, it should be noted that vitamin E supplements have side effects such as prostate cancer in men or risk of death.
Coffee- various clinical studies have shown that the patient with Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease who drink coffee more than two times a day are reported to have less liver damage as compared to those who don’t drink coffee. However, it is not known how coffee affects liver damage. It is supposed that its compounds may help in combating inflammation. (2) One research study states that caffeine present in the coffee can reverse the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It reduces inflammation of the liver by decreasing the production of abnormal liver cells, and fat cells. Coffee contains chlorogenic acid that can protect you from diabetes, thereby reducing the incidence of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (3)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease does not go away on its own. It goes away at the early stages when certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight, adopting healthy eating habits, controlling diabetes, etc are practiced. Lifestyle modification is only the one way to reverse this disease of the liver. (4)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is of two types, simple fatty liver or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Out of two types, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a progressive disease that can induce severe damage to the liver resulting in liver cirrhosis and liver failure. There is no specific alternative treatment for Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Vitamin E and coffee are supposed to be effective in treating Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.