Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells of patients who don’t abuse alcohol. It ranges in severity from simple excess fat deposits (steatosis) to liver injury and inflammation (steatohepatitis). The non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a more severe form which can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The most common cause of fatty liver disease is excessive body fatness. Certain conditions often accompany and may contribute to fatty liver disease e.g. diabetes mellitus, high lipids, insulin resistance, high blood pressure which are also knows as metabolic syndrome. Other causes include genetic factors and certain drugs and chemicals such as alcohol.
The current treatment is mainly based on lifestyle modification, weight loss, and physical activity in order to reduce the amount of fat deposits in the liver. Patients who are overweight or obese are advised to achieve a gradual and sustained weight loss through proper nutrition and exercise. Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% may improve fatty liver. To achieve 0.5 to 1.0 kg weight loss per week a reduction of at least 500 calories per day is recommended.
Dietary composition can also directly influence the NAFLD development.
- Avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fat.
- Choose monounsaturated fats and oils
- Increase intake of omega-3 fats in your diet
- Replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrains
- Avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup and other caloric sweeteners
- Choose lean and plant protein foods
- Include variety of vegetables daily
- Aim for total of at least 150 min of moderate intensity exercise per week including twice weekly resistance training
An accredited practicing dietitian can offer an evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle intervention tailored to your needs.