In the wake of the pandemic, medical researchers have been diligently studying the many ways the virus affects the body. While respiratory symptoms are often the primary focus, emerging evidence suggests that COVID-19 can also impact other organs, including your liver. Initially called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD,} post-pandemic it is referred to as metabolic-dysfunction associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) – a more accurate description.
Understanding Metabolic-Dysfunction Associated Fatty Liver Disease (MAFLD)
When you think of liver disease it’s common to associate it with alcohol abuse. However, MAFLD is a chronic liver disease and is the most common liver disorder globally, often associated with conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Between 2009 and 2020 the number of Americans with diabetes climbed from 3% to 4.1% and obesity shot up from 32.7% to 40.9%. (Source: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.)
With obesity and diabetes rapidly rising, the prevalence of MAFLD is expected to increase as well.
The Liver’s Role in Long COVID: Unraveling the Connection
Now that the pandemic is over, the focus has shifted to what is being called Long COVID. This condition is a cluster of symptoms that can make it tough to know if what you have is indeed Long COVID.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), liver injury is frequently observed in patients infected with the COVID-19 virus. A study conducted in Italy found that the majority of Long COVID patients had MAFLD.
This suggests that understanding the link between COVID-19 and liver health is crucial, especially considering the prevalence of MAFLD worldwide.
How Long COVID May Exacerbate MAFLD Symptoms
Research indicates that individuals with pre-existing liver conditions, including MAFLD, may be at an increased risk of experiencing Long COVID. The inflammatory response triggered by COVID-19 could exacerbate liver damage in MAFLD patients, potentially leading to more severe complications.
MAFLD in Long COVID Patients: Research Studies
Both traditional medicine and alternative or holistic researchers have been hard at work looking for effective treatment options for this condition. So far, despite more than one billion dollars invested in this research, traditional medicine has not come up with any effective solutions.
Holistic health doctors and practitioners are doing much better. Dr. Freddie Ulan, the founder of Nutrition Response Testing® has been researching the connection between Long COVID and MAFLD. His research, which shows the connection and offers a method of addressing this issue, will be released at the UNS Spring Symposium: The Fatty Liver Summit. This Symposium will be held April 12 – 14, 2024 at the Hilton Carillon Hotel in St. Petersburg FL.
Lifestyle Changes to Support Liver Health During Long COVID
Adopting a liver-friendly lifestyle can help support overall liver health during Long COVID.
A Healthy Diet: Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for managing MAFLD. Focus on consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while limiting intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and saturated fats.
Bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all diet or protocol that works for everyone. You need to find out exactly what nutrients your body needs to heal itself.
Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can help improve your liver function and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. Consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for managing MAFLD, as excess body fat, particularly around the abdomen, is a significant risk factor for the condition. If you’re overweight or obese, aim to achieve gradual and sustainable weight loss.
Limit Alcohol Consumption: While MAFLD is not caused by alcohol consumption, limiting or avoiding alcohol altogether is important for managing the condition. Alcohol can further damage your liver and lead to worsening symptoms.
If you have lingering symptoms after getting either the virus or the vaccine, speak to your healthcare professional about the link between Long COVID and Metabolic-dysfunction Associated Fatty Liver disease (MAFLD.) Addressing this connection could make all the difference to your recovery post-pandemic