The liver plays an important role in fat metabolism and when it cannot perform this function as efficiently, fat stores, primarily in the form of triglycerides, build up in the liver. While it typically does not cause any damage, it can lead to inflammation and scarring. Fatty liver disease most commonly results from obesity, but has also been linked with diabetes, high triglycerides, alcoholism and the use of certain medications. Treatment primarily lies in addressing the underlying conditions causing fatty liver. Lifestyle changes can also help. You should talk to your doctor for guidance in designing a treatment strategy and before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Reduce your intake of refined, quick-burning carbohydrates like white-flour foods and sugar. A study published in a 2007 issue of “Obesity,” led by Dr. David Ludwig of the Children’s Hospital of Boston, fed rats a diet either a low-glycemic diet, which raises blood sugar more steadily, or a high-glycemic diet, which causes a rapid rise. Those fed a diet mirroring unhealthy carbohydrates had twice the amount of fat in their livers, as well as in the rest of their bodies.
Eat fewer carbohydrates overall; a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern that appeared in a 2009 issue of “Hepatology” found that eating fewer carbohydrates caused the liver to burn its fat stores as a source of energy. Foods particularly high in carbohydrates include starches such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn and sugar. You do not need to completely cut out these foods, but keep servings small and aim for whole grain choices when applicable.
Limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol intake has been linked with increasing triglyceride levels, the primary form of fat found in the liver.
Include more plant foods in your diet such as fruits, vegetables, plant proteins like soy and healthy fats like nuts and seeds. These foods will promote weight loss and keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
Exercise at a moderate pace at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Moderately intense exercise should raise your heart and breathing rate beyond what you experience during day-to-day activity.
Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.