Fatty liver, scientifically known as hepatic steatosis, results from fat accumulation on the liver. Generally, our liver has no fat storage on it. But, after years of sustained over a long period of time will lead up to high cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides. Therefore, it is vital to bring some dietary changes to get rid of fatty liver disease. A fatty liver diet is one of the best ways to treat and improve overall symptoms.
The primary objective of a fatty liver diet is to eliminate the fat accumulated in the abdominal area. It helps reduce the progression of fat in the liver. In addition, a fatty liver diet is also suitable for people who have jaundice. It is a precautionary measure to ensure that the liver condition doesn’t worsen.
Before discussing the fatty liver diet in detail, let us first understand fatty liver disease.
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Everything about Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is a condition of extra fat build-up on the liver. Fatty liver disease is more common than ever. Unfortunately, stats say that fatty liver affects 20%-40% of the US population. It usually does not cause any symptoms initially. However, it is often first detected by imaging tests requested for other reasons. These tests include abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.
Most people associate fatty liver with drinking too much alcohol. However, this common disease can also occur in people who don’t drink any alcohol at all. In addition, studies prove malnutrition and a low-protein diet may cause fatty liver in non-alcoholic people.
It is most common in people over the age of 60. However, it can occur in children and young adults. This form of fatty liver disease is called “Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease” or “NAFLD”.
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (also known as “hepatic steatosis”) is a build-up of fat in the liver. There are several reasons why someone might develop a fatty liver. It can be over-consumption of sugar, insulin resistance, obesity and genetics.
One of the main recommendations to get rid of the fat stored in your liver is to lose weight, especially if you are obese. Reducing at least 10% of body weight can increase enzyme production in the liver. And that will eliminate some of the stored fat naturally.
Over time, a fatty liver can lead to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (also called “NASH”). NASH is a more advanced form of fatty liver disease and may lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. Unfortunately, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease can also lead to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.
Top Causes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Various reasons may cause fatty liver. There are some controllable reasons like food intake and nutrition. Whereas, for reasons like pre-diabetes, the genetic linkage may not be as easily controlled. These causes may require medication.
Malnutrition can cause mitochondrial changes, which can lead to NAFLD. Research says that malnutrition from childhood may lead to hepatic steatosis. It is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Scientists also suggest that low protein intake during infancy can be a leading cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
In addition, children suffering from marasmus and kwashiorkor may develop fatty liver disease in the later stages of their life. These two conditions result from deficient protein in children’s diet and occurs mostly in children who are severely malnourished
Just like malnutrition, overeating can cause inflammation. And inflammation can lead to liver damage.
As per studies, most obese adults have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Excess fat deposition in the body leads to insulin resistance and inflammation. As a result, one can develop fatty liver disease.
People who are sensitive to sugar or are insulin resistant tend to have more fat. And pre-diabetics store more fat on the liver than other people. As a result, they are more prone to the risk of fatty liver.
Over-consumption of carbs and sugar
Excess sugar, refined carbs like white flour and soda are linked to NAFL. It is precarious for insulin-resistant individuals. Thus, the chances of developing a fatty liver condition are high.
Poor Gut Health
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut lining could contribute to NAFLD development in some people.
Some cultural groups are prone to developing fatty liver, especially men of Hispanic or African-American descent. Therefore, people genetically inclined to develop fatty liver disease should follow a fatty liver diet. It will help them in staying away from the disease.
Fatty Liver Diet – The Best Way to Get Rid of a Fatty Liver
As the name ‘fatty liver’ suggests, the condition is all about excess fat deposition. Hence, you should restrict the amount of fat in your diet. Nutritionists believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising and following a fatty liver diet may help you get rid of it.
11 Foods to Eat If You Have Fatty Liver
One of the best things to do if you are experiencing symptoms of fatty liver is to follow a fatty liver diet. First, you have to reduce refined carbs and sugar and replace them with more complex carbs. These complex carbs can be oats, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
Most doctors will recommend the Mediterranean diet, low in refined carbs and high in protein. It includes lean meats like fish and low-fat dairy as well.
In addition, you can consume fresh produce like vegetables and fruit. These types of foods will support your liver and help to prevent NAFLD.
People with fatty liver who drink coffee experience more minor liver damage over time than those who do not drink coffee. Research has found that caffeine helps in slowing down the onset of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis etc.
Drinking 1 cup of black coffee per day is a great way to support your liver health.
Avocado is unsaturated fat and an excellent alternative to saturated fat products like butter. It is also an excellent plant-based source for omega 3 fatty acids.
In addition, avocado contains compounds that can help to heal liver damage associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver. Research proves that omega 3 fatty acid intake improves the fatty liver condition. Hence, avocado is an excellent addition to your diet if you have fatty liver.
3. Whey Protein
A whey protein shake is an excellent addition to your diet to keep your fatty liver under control. A study says that daily consumption of whey protein reduced liver fat in women with NAFLD by 20%.
Remember, excess protein can also cause bloating if not utilised properly. Consuming a scoop of whey protein post-workout is an ideal way for best assimilation.
As mentioned earlier, a low protein diet can lead to a fatty liver due to inflammation. Hence, the perfect amount of protein is necessary for the body’s healthy functioning.
4. Green Tea
The antioxidants in green tea can do wonders for your liver. Unique antioxidants such as catechins reduce liver fat and inflammation in NAFLD patients.
In addition, scientific research proves that fatty liver patients who consume 1-2 cups of green tea regularly have shown optimum levels of liver enzymes. Hence, it results in improvement of liver functioning.
5. Olive Oil
It’s important to avoid saturated fat if you suspect you have a fatty liver. Especially fats that you would find in red meat or butter. Fats like olive oil are unsaturated and are a much better alternative.
Olive oil has PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) and MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acid). Aim to consume no more than 2-3 tbsp of olive oil per day.
Oatmeal is a great, filling, low-fat breakfast option containing fibre and complex carbohydrates, promoting weight loss in people with NAFLD. Keeping your weight in check is crucial for those with a fatty liver.
Pair your oatmeal with a tablespoon of nut butter like peanut or almond or sliced fruit for a balanced, energising breakfast.
The soy protein present in tofu can help reduce fat build-up in the liver. It is a good source of protein. Hence, it helps to slow down the onset of fatty liver disease. Another great benefit is, tofu is low in sugar and fat. It is a must if you are following a NAFL-friendly diet. It is versatile, and you can easily incorporate it into any cuisine.
8. Green Vegetables
Green veggies like broccoli and spinach can reduce the build-up of fat in the liver. Aim to take in copious amounts of broccoli, spinach, methi, mustard and lettuce each day. Filling your diet with lots of greens is also a great way to manage weight.
Fibre from green leafy vegetables helps reach early satiety and keeps weight in check. In addition, research proves that nitrate compounds in green leafy vegetables reduce symptoms and reverse fatty liver disease and the Chlorophyll present in green vegetables is an excellent liver cleanser.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli help increase the liver’s ability to detoxify and help in cleansing.
These vegetables have sulphur compounds necessary to produce Glutathione in our body. Glutathione is a significant antioxidant that protects the liver from inflammation. Indole, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, is also effective in treating fatty liver disease.
10. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds etc., are rich sources of poly and monounsaturated fatty acids.
This unsaturated fat is often termed “good fat” and is beneficial for the body. In addition, you get omega 3 fatty acids from nuts and seeds. That, in turn, is beneficial to reverse fatty liver disease.
11. Chicken and Egg
Chicken and eggs are sources of biologically active protein. The bioactive protein is readily absorbed and digested in the body. Since a major cause of fat deposition in the liver is a low protein diet, an adequate amount of protein can help cure fatty liver disease.
7 Foods to Avoid on a Fatty Liver Diet
You might assume that “fat” is the biggest culprit in NAFLD, but surprisingly it’s high in sugar and carbohydrate-containing foods. Of course, it is essential to avoid saturated fat for overall health and weight loss. But, reducing carb intake will warrant the most considerable improvement in your fatty liver condition.
One of the most important things to avoid when having NAFLD is alcohol. Not only can alcohol cause fatty liver disease, but it can make an existing condition much worse.
You should cut down on any sugar. It even includes naturally derived sugars like fruit juice and honey.
3. Refined carbs
You should avoid having white carbs like white bread and pasta. Instead, you can replace them with whole-grain alternatives like quinoa, whole wheat bread and black bean pasta.
Try to keep your sodium intake to under 1500 milligrams per day. Too much salt can make you hold onto water weight.
5. Fried foods
Fried foods like french fries, chips, chicken wings and doughnuts are high in fat and sugar. So these types of foods make your blood sugar rise. And that is a contributing factor to NAFLD.
6. Saturated fat
You should avoid any sort of saturated fat, including red meat and butter. Instead, replace it with healthy fats like olive, avocado and cold-pressed nut oils.
7. Red meat
Red meat like beef and pork contains high amounts of saturated fats. It is not desirable in the case of fatty liver. Hence, you should avoid it. Red meat also has toxins that can worsen health by causing inflammation when not correctly processed.
Fatty Liver Diet Plan
Here is what a day of fatty liver diet should look like:
Breakfast Diet Plan
- 1 cup of black coffee
- A bowl of oatmeal or other whole-grain hot cereal with walnuts and fruits/berries added
- 1 cup of green tea
- Protein shake made with whey or soy protein, oats, berries and low-fat milk
Lunch Diet Plan
1 or 2 servings of whole grains like chapati/brown rice with 1 cup curd/pulses/50 grams chicken and two servings of raw or cooked greens/vegetables
Snack Diet Plan
- A small handful of almonds, or
- Curd mint dip and sliced raw veggies, or
- One sliced green apple with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
Dinner Diet Plan
A cup of whole grains like brown rice or Jowar /Bajra roti with 1 cup of beans/lentils and 2 cups of cooked or raw vegetables.
Dessert Diet Plan
- 1 cup of fresh mixed berries
Recommended Lifestyle Changes
You can do several things to reduce your risk and control fatty liver disease.
Engaging in daily exercise is a great way to keep your fatty liver under control. Taking part in a combination of cardio and strength training a few times per week may reduce fat build-up in adults with NAFLD by 10%.
High-Intensity Interval Training or “HIIT” is also an excellent exercise. It combines cardio and strength training into one quick routine. A recent study shows that patients with insulin resistance who partook in HIIT workouts for 12 weeks have reduced their liver fat by 39%.
The frequency of your exercise is more important than how intense your workouts are. Regular exercise is essential, whether you choose a lighter, cardio-based activity or a fierce strengthening one. Aim to work out for 30 minutes most days of the week. 4-5 days is a great way to start.
2. Get Your Diabetes Under Control
We already know that insulin resistance is a precursor to fatty liver disease. Talk to your doctor if you cannot control your diabetes through diet and lifestyle alone. The doctor will help you manage diabetes with medication. It could be crucial in preventing the occurrence of NAFLD down the road.
3. Sleep pattern
Sleep pattern is fundamental when it comes to liver diseases. Regular sleep of 7-8 hours a day is necessary for optimal body functioning. Sleep gives the body a window of rest, repair and rejuvenation. Hence, it’s imperative to get optimum sleep every day.
4. Water intake
Water is the essence of life. You should consume 3-4 litres of water daily. Water flushes out toxins from our bodies and helps reduce inflammation. Therefore, it is crucial to drink water regularly for the excellent functioning of the body.
Symptoms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Most people don’t know that they have a fatty liver until the symptoms intensify. Here are some common, early signs of Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease to watch out for:
- General fatigue
- A feeling of fullness in the right side or centre of the abdomen
- A swollen belly
- Visible, enlarged blood vessels under the skin
- Reddish palms
- A yellow tinge to the skin and eyes
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Deep yellow coloured urine
The most common early symptoms of NAFLD is a feeling of tiredness and slight pain in the right side of the abdomen. If you are experiencing two or more of these symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor.
Symptoms of Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
- An extreme yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Moderate/severe pain in the abdomen
- Loss of hunger
Fatty Liver Disease can stem from a myriad of issues, including poor diet, obesity, pre-diabetes, genetics and poor gut health. However, following a Mediterranean-style diet high in green vegetables, low-sugar fruits, lean meats, and whole grains is the key to preventing and healing the fatty liver.
It is also important to avoid sugar, white carbs, alcohol, salt and saturated fat if you have a fatty liver. Overall, you must follow a healthy diet and keep your weight and blood sugar in control. That way, you can keep NAFLD at bay and lead a healthy life. It is imperative to follow a fatty liver diet when you have a fatty liver condition.
A healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity, water and sleep patterns also play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy liver and overall good health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is the best drink for fatty liver?
A. Best drink for fatty liver is fruit juice from any citrus fruit like orange, lemon, watermelon etc. or even lemonade..
Q2. What is the fastest way to cure a fatty liver?
A. Proper medications and following it up with a proper diet is the fastest way to cure fatty liver
Q3. Is banana good for fatty liver?
A. Yes, bananas are good for fatty liver. However limit your consumption to 1 a day as the fructose content in them may lead to a fatty liver.
Q4. How do you remove fat from your liver?
A. By following a fatty liver diet, regular physical activity, and medicines in case of severe condition, you can lower your blood lipid levels.
Q5. How long does the fatty liver take to heal?
A. There is no generalised period. It differs from person to person and depends on the severity of each person’s case.
Q6. What are the stages of fatty liver?
A. There are four stages: simple fatty liver, steatosis, fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver.
Q7. What foods cleanse the liver?
A. Antioxidants present in fruits and green leafy vegetables can help cleanse the liver. Fatty Fishes, nuts and spices are also great in promoting liver health.
Q8. What should I eat for breakfast if I have a fatty liver?
A. Black coffee or green tea with a bowl of oatmeal or any whole-grain cereal can be a healthy and filling breakfast for a person having a fatty liver. .
Q9. Is oatmeal OK for fatty liver?
A. Yes. It’s a wholesome complex carbohydrate source. You can also add berries to it for its antioxidant properties, flavour and colour.
Q10. Is lemon water good for your liver?
A. Yes, lemon has vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. It will protect your liver from further degeneration.
Q11. Which fruit is best for the liver?
A. Berries and citrus fruits are best for the liver.