Fatty Liver Diet: Recommended and Prohibited Foods

We are going to show you what are the key points at the dietary level to achieve a good treatment in fatty liver disease, optimizing recovery.
Fatty Liver Diet: Recommended and Prohibited Foods
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 16 December, 2022

If you suffer from fatty liver disease, it’s important to plan a suitable diet in order to manage the condition and improve its prognosis. This is a complex health problem that, although reversible, can cause serious damage if it isn’t detected early or treated properly. Find out about the best fatty liver diet here!

Before we start, it’s essential to emphasize that fatty liver is usually caused by bad lifestyle habits, both dietary and toxic. For example, alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk, and is one of the main factors that causes it. A diet high in low-quality trans fats can also predispose to the problem.

When fatty liver disease is diagnosed, certain dietary changes should be considered. Some types of food can be eaten more frequently to improve symptoms. As we’re talking about changes to the functioning of an organ that has a basic inflammatory component, controlling its proper functioning will be key to reversing the problem. Continue reading to find out about the best fatty liver diet.

According to recent scientific literature, regular consumption of artichokes helps to alleviate the pathology. This vegetable contains phytochemicals with antioxidant capacity that help repair damaged liver tissue, which, little by little, will create a greater sense of well-being. This is evidenced by research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

There are two options here. The first of these is to include artichokes in your diet on a regular basis, as you’ll need to consume it in high quantities in order to obtain its benefits. Another option is to use an artichoke extract supplement; in this way you’ll be able to ingest the necessary amount of phytochemicals to experience positive effects.

Milk thistle is another key product in the treatment of fatty liver. According to some research, it contains a compound called silymarin, which improves the prognosis of both viral and non-communicable liver problems. Although it’s true that the evidence isn’t totally comprehensive yet, there are some quite consistent indications of its effectiveness.

Omega 3 for the treatment of fatty liver

The diet for fatty liver is varied
Fish is an excellent food for people with fatty liver.

One of the components that shouldn’t go unnoticed in the treatment of liver problems are the omega-3 series fatty acids.

These compounds have been shown to be strong anti-inflammatories, which can help rebuild damaged tissue, speed recovery, and stop one of the main causative mechanisms. However, it’s important to balance it with the fatty acids of the omega-6 series.

To ensure the presence of these compounds in the diet, an increase in the consumption of oily fish is usually recommended, due to its high content of healthy fats. In cases in which fatty liver has developed, it’s best to consume small fish, as the risk of a significant accumulation of heavy metals inside is lower.

There’s also the option of incorporating high doses of omega-3 into your diet through supplements. Both krill oil and cod liver oil would work well here. Both products contain DHA and EPA in sufficient quantities, which allows the anti-inflammatory effect to take place successfully.

It should be noted that the omega 3s themselves are capable of protecting the muscle from the body’s catabolic states. Thus, pathologies such as sarcopenia can be prevented.

When the liver isn’t working well, certain metabolic mechanisms may not be carried out efficiently and protein synthesis may be reduced. Therefore, the presence of omega 3 in the body will help to protect lean tissue.

Prohibited foods when you have fatty liver

In the same way that the consumption of some products favors recovery after the diagnosis of fatty liver disease, there are other things that should be eliminated from the diet, as they’re counterproductive.

One example is trans fatty acids, known as trans fats. These are formed by cooking high-fat foods at high temperatures. They have high inflammatory power, as evidenced by research published in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin.

Likewise, all toxic compounds must be completely restricted. Due to this, alcohol and tobacco should be completely eliminated. Of course, it goes without saying that all other drugs should be avoided completely.

When we talk about drugs, we’re not only referring to recreational drugs, because many types of drugs significantly affect liver function too. It may be necessary to review your medication with your specialist if necessary.

In addition, you’ll need to limit your intake of simple sugars because they have an inflammatory potential when they aren’t burned off through physical exercise.

In fact, there’s evidence to show that regular consumption of sugar can increase the risk of certain pathologies, such as metabolic syndrome. The best thing will be to prioritize the consumption of complex carbohydrates, through foods with high fiber content.

Regarding fruits, there’s quite a bit of controversy. On the one hand, it’s stated that the intake of fructose in large quantities negatively affects liver function.

However, these foods contain a significant amount of antioxidants that help keep inflammation under control and help tissue regeneration. Vitamins also fulfill this last function, especially vitamin C.

Most experts recommend that intake should be moderate. You should choose fruits with lower sugar content and higher fiber. Even so, your intake may need to be severely limited until liver health markers improve. When they do, you can reintroduce them gradually.

Hypocaloric diet for liver health

It’s crucial to note that, on many occasions, fatty liver develops where there’s excess weight and obesity. Therefore, a diet that helps to improve body composition will always be a good option, in order to reverse the process. You should ensure that there’s a certain caloric deficit, although a sufficient supply of quality protein must be guaranteed.

Certain strategies such as intermittent fasting can be put in place to facilitate the process. According to a study published in the Canadian Family Physician magazine, this fasting is an efficient way to help mobilize and oxidize fat, and can improve body composition. Even reducing carbohydrates can be effective, although it doesn’t always generate adequate adherence.

However, to really experience a significant change, it’ll be necessary to introduce physical activity into the equation. Otherwise, a good deficit won’t be effectively consolidated in the use of energy substrates.

Strength work helps you to reverse situations of insulin resistance, also closely linked to the development of fatty liver. In this case, the weight loss will be significant.

To be successful, in addition to making changes in the diet, other lifestyle habits are necessary. For example, getting at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night can make a difference. In this way, the recovery processes will be carried out optimally, which will allow the tissue to repair itself favorably.

And, to mention dietary components again, it’s good for the diet to be based, above all, on the consumption of fresh foods with high nutritional density. It needs to be a hypocaloric diet, and can be supplemented with antioxidants, omega 3, and even vitamin C.

This last nutrient acts as an antioxidant and favors the endogenous synthesis of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body.

Microbiota and fatty liver

In recent years, there has been speculation about the possibility that changes in the microbiota affect, for better or worse, our liver health. Certain strains of bacteria were identified that could improve the functioning of this organ, thus managing to reduce the problems associated with it. However, there are still many questions regarding this.

What does seem clear is that maintaining a healthy microbiota reduces the risk of internal inflammatory mechanisms getting out of control. This positively influences all organs and the physiology of our body in general. To ensure this objective, it’s advisable to follow a diet with good content in fermented dairy foods and fiber.

This last substance serves as an energetic substrate for the bacteria that reside in the digestive tube. Above all, the action of soluble fiber stands out, since it can ferment and produce various benefits. It’s found mostly in plant-based foods like apples and oats. The inclusion of fiber in the diet is essential in order to experience its benefits.

Drugs and liver disease

The fatty liver diet and medications.
Because a large number of drugs are involved in liver metabolism, it’s important to control their consumption and always consult a doctor in people who suffer from fatty liver.

The abuse of certain drugs can be one of the causes of fatty liver disease. After all, these compounds are usually metabolized in liver tissue and subject the cells that make it up to a high level of stress. When this condition is maintained constantly, chronic and complex diseases can develop.

Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to consume medicines without professional supervision. Otherwise, you could experience more side effects than desired, especially in the medium and long term. However, it will also be a very positive step to optimize lifestyle habits to ingest these compounds as little as possible.

Fatty liver diet

It is possible to follow certain dietary mechanisms to either reverse or improve fatty liver disease and thus maintain a healthier life. It’s a pathology that has a lot to do with our life habits, and for this reason effective positive changes can be made to resolve these issues. Of course, sometimes it’s also important to consider pharmacological treatment.

Before finishing, it should be noted that fatty liver disease often remains silent until the last stages. It’s possible to detect it through blood tests, although it’s also necessary to carry out a series of complementary tests to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment.

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