What is NAFLD?

Healthy livers filter blood, regulate sugar levels and blood clotting, and perform hundreds of other vital functions. But, these functions can be affected when there is fat in the liver. When there is excess fat in the liver, this can lead to Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD. NAFLD is a disease where there is excess fat stored in the liver not caused by alcohol use. There are two types of NAFLD:

  • Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFL): Fat in the liver with little or no inflammation or cell damage, can progress to NASH.
  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH): Fat in the liver with inflammation and cell damage, can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

NAFLD is very prevalent in the United States.

  • 30-40% of adults in the U.S. have NAFL
  • 1 in 5 people with NASH will progress to liver cirrhosis
  • NASH is expected to be the leading cause of liver transplant in the US between 2020-2025

Risk Factors and Disparities:

Risk factors for NAFLD and liver cancer include being overweight or obese (BMI > 25), diabetes or insulin resistance, and other metabolic factors. Racial disparities exist in many aspects of NAFLD, including prevalence, severity, genetic predisposition, and overall chance of recovery. Hispanics and Asian Americans have a higher prevalence of NAFLD compared with other ethnic and racial groups.

How can I lower my risk of NAFLD?

  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise most days of the week
  • Limit sugar; choose a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  • Ask your physician about screening for NAFLD and NASH

For more information on NAFLD, please visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the following link: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash/definition-facts

For easier review, you can also download the documents below. They are available in both English and Spanish.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease information in EnglishNonalcoholic fatty liver disease information in Spanish


Digestive Health Specialists, PA is here to help if you, or someone you know, would like more information or if you are experiencing any digestive health symptoms and would like further evaluation. Feel free to give us a call at 336-768-6211 or fill the form below.

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