Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is defined as an excessive accumulation of fats, often accompanied by elevated enzyme levels, in your liver in the absence of significant alcohol consumption.
While it’s normal for your liver to contain some fat, accumulations of more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your liver’s weight are problematic.
Alcohol consumption is a leading cause of fatty liver, but in the case of NAFLD, it occurs in people who are overweight or obese, have high cholesterol, or high triglycerides, and who consume little or no alcohol.
Some people develop NAFLD even without any known risk factors, and this condition affects up to 25 percent of Americans.
NAFLD often has no symptoms, although it may cause fatigue, jaundice, swelling in the legs and abdomen, mental confusion, and more. If left untreated, it can cause your liver to swell, called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or even contribute to liver cancer or liver failure.
The study, carried out by University College London, found that a four-week break from alcohol can heal the liver function and lower blood pressure levels.
It also revealed that “going dry” for a month can lower one’s chances of developing cancer, diabetes and becoming obese.
As part of the study, researchers monitored 102 healthy men and women in their 40s taking part in a “dry January” campaign.
Beforehand, the women had been drinking an average of 29 units per week while men were consuming 31 units a week, both above the government’s guideline levels.
After the month of abstinence, participants lost nearly 6lbs (2.7kg) in weight and reported improvements in their concentration and sleeping.
Researchers also found that their “liver stiffness” – an indication of damage – had been reduced by 12.5 percent while their insulin resistance had decreased by 28 percent.