You've heard about high blood pressure being referred to as the "silent killer." But there's a new health concern on the rise in the UK that's just as stealthy and potentially deadly.
Renowned TV doctor Michael Mosley is sounding the alarm about a disease that often goes undetected for years but can have devastating consequences on your health.
It's called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). It's fast becoming one of the nation's most significant health challenges.
Unlike many illnesses that make their presence known through symptoms, NAFLD is a silent operator. It creeps up on you, making it difficult to detect until it's too late. While there are usually no warning signs, being overweight is a key indicator, as this condition is caused by an excess of fat in the liver.
But how do you know if you have it?
You might be surprised to learn that up to one in every three people in the UK may have early-stage NAFLD, where small amounts of fat accumulate in their livers.
It's a health concern that often flies under the radar. Michael Mosley himself discovered he had early signs of NAFLD over a decade ago when he was overweight. However, he managed to reverse it, along with his type 2 diabetes, through lifestyle changes and a particular diet.
"I expect he probably did [have it] because he was significantly overweight," Michael said.
"Eleven years ago, when I discovered that I had type 2 diabetes, I also had a scan that revealed I had early signs of fatty liver disease. Both the diabetes and the fatty liver went away once I went on the 5:2 diet and lost 9kg."
The 5:2 diet, popularised by Michael Mosley, involves eating normally for five days a week and reducing your calorie intake to around 800 for the other two days.
The approach helped him shed the necessary weight to reverse his diabetes and fatty liver disease.
According to Professor Mark Mattson, a leading expert in intermittent fasting, "We all have a personal fat threshold - at some point, it overflows and goes to places it shouldn't be stored, and it goes into the liver and pancreas, and that's what tips you into diabetes."
Why It's a Grave Concern
The most dangerous place for excess fat is around your abdomen, as it infiltrates vital organs like the liver and pancreas, affecting blood sugar control and leading to health issues.
As Michael Mosley warns, "The way to cure yourself is to drain out the fat."
NAFLD has now surpassed alcohol as the leading cause of liver failure and is a significant contributor to liver transplants. It can also increase the risk of heart disease and depression due to the inflammatory factors produced by visceral fat.
Unfortunately, there's no specific medication for NAFLD, but adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a significant difference. If you're concerned about your risk, consider discussing it with your doctor and exploring ways to maintain a healthy weight.
While NAFLD may be silent, your awareness and proactive steps can ensure it doesn't become a silent killer in your life.
Don't let it sneak up on you – take charge of your health today.