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9 Tips to Reverse a Fatty Liver


9 Tips to Reverse a Fatty Liver

March 6, 2022 | 4 min read

Did you know that it is possible to reverse a fatty liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)? Yes, that’s right. You can reverse a fatty liver. These methods can be employed to improve liver health in general.

What happens to your liver in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

Your liver is a large organ located behind your right rib cage. It extends a little below into the right upper abdomen.

Most of the pathology of NAFLD is related to insulin resistance. In the presence of insulin resistance, fat begins to accumulate in your liver cells where it is not supposed to be. The fat is normally stored in the fat cells (adipocytes).

The fat that has accumulated in your liver incites inflammation in your liver. Inflammation  in the liver is reflected by increased liver enzymes. Once this happens, it is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Once you get inflammation in your liver, your liver can be damaged and scar tissue develops. This can ultimately lead to cirrhosis.

A lot of these steps are reversible with certain lifestyle modifications.

1.       Weight Loss

Weight loss is actually the most important treatment for reversal of a fatty liver in NAFLD. The goal here is to lose at least 10% of your body weight.  You want to lose this weight gradually and not rapidly. Gradual weight loss is key.

0.5 to 1 kg per week is the recommended amount of weight loss. I personally prefer even a smaller amount of weight loss ranging from 0.25 to 0.5 kg per week. The reason is if you lose weight too quickly, it can actually lead to fat deposition in your liver. So that defeats the purpose of reversing fatty liver. It’s very gradual weight loss that is key here.

2.      Avoid Alcohol

Another important thing to do when you have fatty liver disease is to avoid alcohol. Every time you consume alcohol, it can cause some inflammation and damage to your liver. In NAFLD, you already have fat in your liver that can cause inflammation. So, you want to try to avoid as much damage to your liver as possible. You want to try to abstain from alcohol completely here.

3.      Coffee

Some interesting studies have suggested that coffee consumption can actually reverse and even prevent NAFLD. The best results seem to be with drinking three cups of coffee per day.

4.      Vitamin E

Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to help with NAFLD and liver inflammation. It’s not necessarily used if there’s no sign of inflammation but if liver inflammation is present, Vitamin E supplementation can be used. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It may protect the liver from oxidative damage.

5.      Exercise

Exercising is another important factor in treating and reversing a fatty liver. A combination of aerobic exercises like running or swimming and resistance training (weightlifting) is best. These can aid with weight loss as well.

6.      Vitamin D

Vitamin D may also be used to reverse a fatty liver although there are mixed results from studies. It seems that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with the progression of NAFLD. Vitamin D deficiency may be associated with worsening inflammation in the liver. Vitamin D supplementation can be helpful in reducing inflammation in NAFLD.

7.      Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have very good results in reversing and reducing inflammation in NAFLD. The Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, a little dairy and rarely red meat.

8.     Potassium

Low potassium levels may be significantly associated with NAFLD. Try to get potassium from food sources like fruits (bananas, oranges, kiwis) and vegetables (beetroot, spinach, kale, sweet potato, and broccoli).

9.      Choline

Low choline intake is significantly associated with increased prevalence of NAFLD. The  liver is the main site of choline metabolism. Choline metabolism can be altered by your genetics, and by various hormonal imbalances. So, it’s very important to get enough choline in your diet. You can get choline from several different sources like vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, peas, artichoke), fish (salmon) and eggs.

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