By Abigail Cukier
MOST PEOPLE THINK if you don’t drink,
you won’t get liver disease. In fact, most people
don’t think much about their liver at all. But
one in 10 Canadians has some form of liver
disease, and this number is expected to rise.
The most common form of liver disease
in Canada is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
(NAFLD), which is excess fat in the liver.
While the prevalence of NAFLD in Canada is
not known, researchers in the United States
believe about 25 per cent of that country’s
population has the disease.
More and more Canadians are expected
to be diagnosed with NAFLD due to growing
rates of diabetes and obesity, which are the
main risk factors for the disease. Other risk
factors include high triglycerides, a large waist
circumference and high cholesterol. There
may also be a genetic link that makes some
people more susceptible.
“At first, there are no symptoms. You can
have it for many, many years and not know
until the liver starts to fail,” says Dr. Morris
Sherman, a gastroenterologist at Toronto
General Hospital, University Health Network.
For many people, a fatty liver never causes
symptoms or complications. But for some, the
fat can cause inflammation, or non-alcoholic
steatohepatitis, and can progress to cirrho-
sis, or scarring in the liver. At its most
severe, NAFLD leads to liver failure and
death. The only cure is a liver transplant.
You can take steps to prevent, manage or
even reverse liver damage.
Excess body weight can put an extra burden on the liver, and exercise helps you achieve
or maintain a healthy body weight.
A diet high in calories, saturated fat and
sugar overloads your liver, which for some
people creates the conditions for NAFLD.
While there is no specific liver health diet, make
healthy choices, like reducing sugar, fatty foods
and high-fructose corn syrup.
Don’t ignore your liver
“At your regular checkup with your family doctor, ask for liver blood tests, especially
if you have risk factors. If they are abnormal,
get it investigated,” says Sherman.
Learn about your liver
Visit the Canadian Liver Foundation website ( liver.ca) or university-based medical websites to learn about how your liver works, liver
health and liver disease. C
Abigail Cukier ( abigailcukier.com) is a freelance writer and communications consultant
in Hamilton, Ontario.
for your health
Thinking about change is easy.
Taking the first step can be hard.
MANAGE WEIGH T* BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR MAIN TAIN HEALTH Y CHOLESTEROL**
PGX reduces appetite & promotes a feeling of fullness.* It's not just a very
special “super fibre” that crushes hunger cravings, it’s part of a complete
program for healthy weight management.* When combined with healthy
eating and an active lifestyle, PGX helps you feel full and satisfied all day
even while losing weight*.
Learn more at: 1-800-895-1470
* Product selection may vary by location.
183 pgx 1-2horz eng R1.indd 1 2015-12-31 11: 58 AM