Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a growing health concern, affecting an increasing number of young adults every year. It is a term used to describe a range of conditions caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver.
NAFLD usually occurs in people who are overweight and can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis, if it worsens. This condition is also associated with an increased risk of other serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
The Connection between NAFLD and Zinc Deficiency
In its early stages, NAFLD may not cause any harm, but as it progresses, it can lead to a nutritional deficiency and cause new symptoms to emerge. A study published in the journal Metabolism Open has shown that NAFLD patients have significantly lower urinary zinc concentrations compared to healthy controls.
This is due to the fact that chronic liver diseases such as NAFLD are known to interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, including zinc. The study also highlights that zinc deficiency is closely related to dermatitis, which is a common cause of skin irritation around the mouth.
The authors of the study suggest that insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, reduced absorption from the digestive system, and inadequate food intake could be potential causes of reduced zinc concentrations in NAFLD patients.
Zinc is an important mineral that contributes to the normal function of the immune system, and is known to modulate antiviral, antibacterial immunity, and the inflammatory response.
The Benefits of Zinc Supplementation for NAFLD Patients
Fortunately, research by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has shown that zinc supplements can reduce the accumulation of lipids in the liver and improve liver damage.
However, it is important to note that a large number of NAFLD patients do not experience any symptoms, such as a rash around the mouth, puffiness, itching, or rosacea.
Dietary Recommendations for NAFLD Treatment
The best way to treat NAFLD is to introduce proper eating habits and regular physical activity.
This means avoiding sweetened, fatty, salty, and fried foods, as well as carbonated drinks. The following recommendations can help:
- Reduce body mass while increasing physical activity (three times a week for 45 minutes to start)
- Avoid trans fats and consume saturated fats evenly
- Include olive, sesame, and pumpkin oil in your diet
- Consume blue fish, flax, and chia seeds, which are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Increase fiber intake (whole grains, vegetables, seeds)
- Avoid or limit sugar intake.
Understanding the connection between NAFLD and zinc deficiency, and the benefits of zinc supplementation, can help improve the quality of life for those affected by this condition. By following a healthy diet and incorporating regular physical activity, individuals can help reduce their risk of developing NAFLD and improve their overall health.