Diet changes are the first-line treatment for fatty liver
The body stores fat for energy and insulation in many places, including the liver. If the fat content of the liver is too high, it may be a sign of fatty liver. Dietary changes are the first line of treatment for this condition.
There are two main types of fatty liver: alcohol-related fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver. Pregnant women can also develop hepatic steatosis called acute hepatic steatosis of pregnancy. This rare complication can occur in the third trimester or early postpartum period. Hepatic steatosis damages the liver, preventing it from removing toxins from the blood and producing bile for the digestive system. When the liver cannot perform these tasks effectively, a person is at risk of developing other problems throughout the body.
Lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, are critical to managing fatty liver. A balanced diet can also help prevent malnutrition in people with cirrhosis. Studies have shown that up to 92% of people with cirrhosis suffer from malnutrition.
In this article, we recommend including several foods and other foods to avoid in a diet for fatty liver.
Foods and drinks to help cure fatty liver
Eating natural, unprocessed foods containing complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein is a good place to start. They provide lasting energy and satiety. Some people choose to follow a specific diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. This diet is a particularly good option for patients because it minimizes processed foods, added sugars and saturated fatty acids. Depending on a person’s type of fatty liver, a dietitian can help them develop a personalized meal plan that suits their tastes, symptoms and health conditions. Here are some specific foods that may be especially helpful for people with fatty liver:
Garlic, a staple in many diets, may offer benefits to people with fatty liver. A 2016 study by Advanced Biomedical Research found that garlic powder supplements appear to help patients lose weight and body fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A 2016 review of ongoing research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can improve liver fat and HDL cholesterol levels in patients.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:
Drinking coffee is a morning habit for many people. However, it can offer benefits beyond an energy boost for people with fatty liver.
A 2019 animal study found that decaffeinated coffee reduced liver damage and inflammation in mice fed a diet high in fat, fructose and cholesterol. Another study in mice the same year showed similar results. The researchers found that coffee reduced the amount of fat accumulated in the livers of the mice and improved the way their bodies metabolized energy.
Eating a variety of whole vegetables can help people with fatty liver, and broccoli is one vegetable that people with fatty liver should seriously consider including in their diet. An animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2016 found that long-term consumption of broccoli helped prevent fat accumulation in the liver of mice. Researchers have yet to conduct more studies involving humans. However, early research on the effects of broccoli consumption on the development of fatty liver looks promising.
The use of tea for medicinal purposes is a practice that dates back thousands of years. Green tea provides a variety of antioxidants, such as catechins. Research suggests that these antioxidants may help Trusted Source improve the symptoms of fatty liver.
While all nuts are great additions to any diet, walnuts are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial for people with fatty liver disease. Although more research is needed, a 2019 study in the journal Liver International found that high walnut consumption was significantly associated with lower levels of NAFLD.
Soy or whey protein
A 2019 review in the journal Nutrients found that soy and whey protein can reduce fat accumulation in the liver. Results of a study in this journal showed that obese women who ate 60 grams of whey protein per day for 4 weeks had a 20% reduction in liver fat. Soy protein contains antioxidants called isoflavones, which help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce body fat.
Foods and Beverages to Avoid
Adding healthy foods to your diet is one way to manage fatty liver. However, it is equally important for people with this disease to avoid or limit their intake of certain other foods.
Sugar and added sugar
People with fatty liver should avoid or limit added sugars. These cause an increase in blood sugar and fat in the liver.
Manufacturers often add sugar to sweetened beverages such as candy, ice cream, soda and fruit juice. Added sugars are also found in packaged foods, baked goods and even store-bought coffee and tea. Avoiding other sugars, such as fructose and corn syrup, can also help reduce fat in the liver.
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the most common causes of acute and chronic liver disease. Alcohol can affect the liver, leading to fatty liver and other diseases, such as cirrhosis. People with fatty liver should minimize their alcohol intake or eliminate alcohol from their diet completely.
Processed and refined grains are found in white bread, white pasta and white rice. Producers extract fiber from these highly processed grains, which increase blood sugar levels when the body breaks them down. A 2015 study of 73 adults with NAFLD found that those who ate fewer refined grains had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase the likelihood of various health problems. People can replace refined grains with potatoes, beans or whole grain and whole grain alternatives.
Fried or salted foods
Too many fried or salty foods can increase caloric intake and lead to obesity, a common cause of fatty liver.
Adding spices and herbs to meals is a great way to spice up food without adding salt. People can also usually cook or steam foods instead of frying them.
A 2019 review article noted that eating saturated fat increases the amount of fat around organs, including the liver. Beef, pork and deli meats are all high in saturated fat. People with fatty liver will try to avoid these foods. Substitute lean meat, fish, tofu or tempeh. However, wild fatty fish may be the best choice, as they also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
Implementing lifestyle changes can help people with fatty liver reduce and manage their symptoms.
Some examples of helpful changes include:
Adjusting caloric intake
For patients, weight loss is the most important strategy. Losing 5% of body weight can reduce the amount of fat in a person’s liver. People with NAFLD typically need to consume 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day or reduce their daily intake by 500 to 1,000 calories to see results. This depends on the person’s weight. Malnutrition is an issue for people with fatty liver, and studies show that people with the disease have an optimal caloric intake of about 2,000 calories per day, containing about 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Eating smaller, frequent meals with shorter intervals improves food absorption.
Staying physically active
Regular exercise is important for everyone. However, it has additional benefits for people with fatty liver in terms of managing symptoms. Get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Here are some tips for getting more active
Use a standing workstation
stretching every morning
walking on a treadmill
taking the stairs instead of the elevator
These are all simple ways to increase your activity level throughout the day without taking the time to do a full workout.
When to see a doctor or nutritionist?
If diet and exercise do not have the desired effect on the symptoms of fatty liver, you should consider seeing your doctor. Doctors can refer patients to a dietitian to help develop a meal plan. There are currently no approved medications to treat fatty liver, but dietary and lifestyle choices can significantly improve the condition.