Does your belt seem to be getting a bit tighter? What we see as a little weight gain, gas, or constipation, could actually point toward more serious health conditions. Excess abdominal fat has frequently been associated with liver disease, which tends to have few or no symptoms. The lack of symptoms makes liver disease difficult to diagnose. When symptoms do arise, they are often unpronounced or go ignored. By the time you realize something is wrong, the liver may already have suffered significant damage, and it may be too late.
Fatty liver, also known as steatosis, is a common clinical finding consisting of accumulated triglycerides and other fats in liver cells. In severe fatty liver, fat comprises as much as 40% of the liver’s weight (as opposed to 5% in a normal liver), and the weight of the liver may increase from 3.31 lb (1.5 kg) to as much as 11 lb (4.9 kg). Minimal fatty changes are temporary and asymptomatic; severe or persistent changes may cause liver dysfunction. Fatty liver is a serious disorder that can cause recurrent infection and sudden death due to fat emboli in the lungs. It is often difficult to decipher between belly fat and fatty liver. Belly fat and fatty liver can look exactly the same from the outside of the body. In a thin person, you may notice the belly slightly larger on the right side, but not in all cases. In order to correct belly fat and fatty liver you would start out with the same approach by defattening the liver. After the liver has been defatted the next steps will include working on hormones and cortisol production to reduce further belly and hip fat.
What Causes Fatty Liver?
There are several factors that may cause or contribute to developing fatty liver:
- Obesity: Obesity involves low-grade inflammation that may promote liver fat storage. It’s estimated that 30–90% of obese adults have NAFLD, and it’s increasing in children due to the childhood obesity epidemic (2, 3, 9, 10).
- Excess belly fat: Normal-weight people may develop fatty liver if they are “viscerally obese,” meaning they carry too much fat around the waist (11).
- Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance and high insulin levels have been shown to increase liver fat storage in people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (12, 13).
- High intake of refined carbs: Frequent intake of refined carbs promotes liver fat storage, especially when high amounts are consumed by overweight or insulin-resistant individuals (14, 15).
- Sugary beverage consumption: Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks are high in fructose, which has been shown to drive liver fat accumulation in children and adults (16, 17).
- Impaired gut health: Recent research suggests that having an imbalance in gut bacteria, problems with gut barrier function (“leaky gut”) or other gut health issues may contribute to NAFLD development (18, 19).