The liver consumes glucose to maintain its activities. Liver problems develop when due to defect in insulin activity the liver does not get sufficient glucose to sustain its functions. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a common liver complication in diabetics, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
Obesity and elevated triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein levels in the blood, conditions that are common in diabetics, aggravate the risk of developing fatty liver diseases. Too much fat accumulating in the liver may lead to cirrhosis and fibrosis.
Liver problems in diabetics can be avoided through strict diabetes management and maintaining the blood lipids and pressure levels in the normal range. In addition, regular medical checkups and blood tests are recommended to determine your risk of developing liver disorders.
Tips to Prevent Diabetes And Liver Problems
Risk of liver diseases in diabetics can be diminished through nutritional intervention. A low glycemic, calorie restricted diet is considered ideal for diabetics. Researches suggest that a Mediterranean-like diet can help to keep the blood sugar level under control and reduce the risk of liver problems.
The diet most suitable for preventing diabetes-related liver diseases comprises primarily of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, monounsaturated fats and small amounts of animal protein. While the complex carbohydrates, by slowing down glucose absorption in the digestive tract, prevent abnormal fluctuations in the blood sugar level, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil help to maintain healthy lipid status.
Imbalance in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids intake aggravates the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Omega-3 fats found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds improve insulin sensitivity. By decreasing triglycerides, they can ameliorate risk of developing fatty liver disease. Diabetics should also avoid or limit intake of beverages containing fructose. Besides elevating the sugar level in the blood, high fructose beverages increase the risk of liver fibrosis.
Regular exercises can reduce risks of both diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Moderate workouts combined with vigorous physical activities can prevent accumulation of fats in the liver.
Studies suggest that resistance training, at least three times per week, appears to be more beneficial than aerobic exercises in improving insulin sensitivity and preventing liver abnormalities due to diabetes. Resistance training replaces the body fat with lean muscles, which boosts the basic metabolism rate of the body.
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Maintain Healthy Body Weight
If you are obese or overweight, you can prevent all or any of your liver problems by reducing the body weight. However, you should not lose weight quickly. By increasing circulation of free lipids in the blood, rapid loss in body fat increases the risk of inflammation, necrosis and fibrosis of liver.
Adverse side effects of fast weight loss can be averted by losing not more than 1.5 kg per week with calorie restricted diet and workouts. According to recent studies, bariatric surgery can arrest progression of or reverse fatty liver disease in diabetics.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol Intake
The calorie dense alcoholic drinks are not suitable for diabetics on calorie-restricted diet. Alcohol may even interact with insulin medications and certain diabetes drugs such as meglitinides and sulfonylureas that reduce blood sugar by stimulating the pancreatic cells to increase insulin production.
Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of drinking alcohol when the blood sugar level is low. Alcohol is harmful for the liver. Heavy drinking increases the risk of developing alcoholic fatty liver disease. Therefore, to prevent liver problems, if you are a diabetic woman, limit your alcohol intake to one drink a day, and to two drinks a day, if you are a diabetic man.
Take Medications as Directed
Taking diabetes medications as instructed by your doctor can protect you from liver problems. Among the various diabetes drugs, thiazolidinediones, rosiglitazone and pioglitazone are considered beneficial for the liver. Metformin is suitable for obese diabetics with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels that increase the risk of liver problems in diabetics are usually treated with lipid lowering drugs such as statins.
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