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NAFLD is deadly - but you can prevent it.

Your liver is a vital workhorse within your body. 24/7, the liver filters the blood that comes from your digestive system, removing toxins and metabolizing medications, ensuring the blood that gets to the rest of your body is clean, and making proteins that, among other things, help to clot your blood. Damage to your liver means damage to the rest of your body - and as there are seldom symptoms, liver diseases are typically not diagnosed until it’s too late.

Dr. Gaston says, “Between 80 and 100 million Americans have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which means more than 5% of their liver is now made up of fat cells. NAFLD leads to cirrhosis, which is permanent scarring of the liver, and increases your chances of liver cancer.”

Research shows NAFLD rates are soaring. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis are now in the top 15 causes of death in America. “Experts predict NAFLD will soon be the main reason for liver transplants,” Dr. Gaston noted.

So why is NAFLD becoming so common - and so deadly? “It’s the obesity crisis. Studies show that over 90% of those diagnosed with NAFLD are overweight,” says Dr. Gaston.

The prevalence of NAFLD is accelerated by the fact that when you carry the variant of gene PNPLA3, being overweight “flips a switch” that actually activates NAFLD. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare gene. Nearly 1 in 5 African Americans, 1 in 4 Caucasians and a whopping 1 in 2 Hispanics have the gene.

There is no medication to halt, slow or reverse the build up of fat in the liver. Research shows that the only way to stop or prevent NAFLD is weight loss.

Dr. Gaston says, “Because weight loss and long term weight maintenance can be a nearly-impossible feat when unsupported, experts recommend a weight loss procedure. Studies show that weight loss support via a weight loss procedure resulted in greater weight loss and significantly lower liver enzymes in the blood, lower blood sugar and lower insulin resistance.”

To achieve improvements in NAFLD, or prevent it from happening in the first place, patients need to maintain the weight loss long term. “When losing weight with the Orbera balloon device,” says Dr. Gaston, “patients learn portion control. They feel satisfied with the correct amount of food that gives them adequate nutrients to be healthy and active, without overeating. This physical, mental and emotional education about portion size stays with the patient even after the balloon is removed; the mind and body know what healthy eating really is. This helps keep the weight off for the long term, which is exactly what’s needed to prevent or improve the incidence of NAFLD.”

When your liver is damaged, you’ll bruise easily and small cuts and scrapes will bleed profusely. Your eyes and skin will turn yellow, and your skin may itch. You’ll develop diabetes. Medication side effects will become more severe. You’ll lose your ability to concentrate, remember things, or function mentally. Your kidneys and lungs will be impaired. As NAFLD progresses, your liver will begin failing, which may cause coma and death.

Help prevent NAFLD, liver cancer and liver failure by losing weight, especially if you have family members who have experienced liver disease or cancer. Make an appointment for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Gaston by calling 773-238-1126 or clicking here.

Dr. Gaston and Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants are here to help you get healthy and stay healthy!


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