Treatment for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Treatment for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) refers to a group of conditions attributed to the build-up of adipose tissue in the liver. It is commonly seen in overweight or obese people, and affects around 33 per cent of the UK population.

Although early stage NAFLD is not particularly harmful, in some people the fat can build up, causing inflammation and leading to serious health issues including liver damage, cirrhosis, diabetes, heart attacks and stroke.


The first stages of NAFLD usually don’t have any symptoms, and are typically discovered during tests for liver functioning. Occasionally, fatigue, chronic upper abdominal pain and malaise are related to NAFLD, but this is rare.


Doctors are yet to pinpoint the specific mechanisms that cause NAFLD, but it is thought to run in families. NAFLD is primarily seen in people with obesity, type 2 diabetes and other medical conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.

Medications such as amiodarone, tamoxifen, methotrexate and corticosteroids have been shown to cause NAFLD. Additionally, nutritional causes including long-term starvation, intravenous feeding, severe surgical weight loss and hypercaloric diets rich in fructose, trans/saturated fats and cholesterol have been shown to increase fat deposits in the liver. [18]


In cases where metabolic syndrome is the link between NAFLD, various lifestyle changes can be implemented as treatment.

Although NAFLD isn’t caused by alcohol consumption, it can aggravate the condition. It is advised that you cut down or quit drinking alcohol. If cutting down, ensure you’re drinking less than 10 units per week, spreading alcohol consumption out through the week, and ensure you have several alcohol-free days every week.

Regular exercise has been shown to effectively treat NAFLD. [19] Around 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week is recommended to decrease hepatic fat content. This could be in the form of resistance training, (weight training) or aerobic activities (cardio), such as walking, running, swimming, cycling or dancing.

Consuming a healthy diet has been shown to decrease the liver’s fat content. Calorie-restrictive diets high in soy protein and whey have been shown to prevent and treat NAFLD. In addition to this, eating fruits and vegetables in abundance, switching from processed grains to whole grains, and cutting down on your sugar intake all have beneficial effects. Studies also suggest that taking an omega-3 supplement daily can decrease liver fat. [20]

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