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What Diet Should You Follow If You Have Fatty Liver Disease?

An article by Jackie


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There are no medical treatments for non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease, according to the American Liver Foundation – indicating the extent to which a healthy diet and exercise are key to preventing or reversing early-stage fatty liver disease. Far from having to excessively count calories or otherwise follow an intensely strict dietary regimen, people with fatty liver disease can progress significantly by embracing a nutritious, delicious Mediterranean diet. Known as ‘the heart-healthy diet’, it is also rich in healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids and low in refined sugars, and can be a nutritious tool against fatty liver disease.

Why The Mediterranean Diet?


The Mediterranean Diet is essentially the typical diet recommended by nutritionists. Comprising lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, the diet places less emphasis on refined and sugary foods. To complement The Mediterranean Diet, UChicago Medicine registered dietitian and nutritionist, Annie Guinane, recently recommended consuming three cups of coffee a day and four tablespoons of olive oil, since caffeine can help the liver offset a high-fat diet. Caffeine can also play a role in reducing scarring and in slowing the progression of the disease. It is additionally rich in antioxidants and tocopherol (a fat-soluble E vitamin). Olive oil, meanwhile, has various protective effects on the liver, including the prevention of inflammation and the reduction of oxidative stress.

What About A Low Carbohydrate Diet?

If you need to lose a few pounds and, in the past, you have followed popular low carb diets, you may wonder if a plan like Atkins or Keto will help your condition. One recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that this type of diet “led to rapid and dramatic decreases in liver fat and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.” The researchers warned, however, that it is not suitable for people with high cholesterol levels or those with hypercholesterolemia. If you do opt for a low carbohydrate diet, the key is to choose healthy, lean proteins, and to ensure you consume enough fruits and vegetables daily - something that is possible in some (but not all) low-carb regimens. You should also speak to your doctor/clinical nutritionist to set ideal carb levels to be enjoyed on a daily basis.

One Thing Both Approaches Have In Common

Regardless of whether you and your health professionals opt for a Mediterranean diet or a low-carb approach, one thing that is incompatible with both regimens is refined sugar, commonly found in processed sweets and cakes. These foods are exceedingly high in carbohydrates, and are converted into palmitic acid, which is a precursor to longer chain fatty acids. Essentially, consuming a carb-rich diet increases the fat in liver cells, and makes it impossible for the liver to dispose of the fat it accumulates.

If you have just been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, the first step your health team will probably recommend is the adoption of a healthy diet. The Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, is one choice. Another is a low-carb yet healthy approach that still allows for the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Whichever option you choose, try to avoid sugar, cookies, breads and other refined products, while embracing whole foods that are high in nutrition and low in sugar and unhealthy fats.