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Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH

Surgical Oncologist

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Liver Blogs | 07 Feb 2022, Monday

Does Diet Cause Fatty Liver?

Does fatty liver disease mean having extra fat in your liver? Yes, it does! You might have even heard your doctor call it hepatic steatosis, which is a medical term for the same. It is majorly caused by alcohol abuse.

Sometimes even severe infections can affect the liver and cause this condition. This condition does not necessarily arise due to excessive fat in the diet. However, an unhealthy diet may predispose you to fatty liver.

Let’s find out how and see what you should eat to keep it at bay.!

diet cause fatty liver

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What is Fatty liver disease?

It is a condition that occurs when an excess of fat gets stored in the liver. This results in inflammation in the liver and the formation of excess fibrous tissue that leads to cirrhosis or, even worse-liver, failure.

Fatty liver disease is of following types:

1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): It is a milder disease, that is not related to alcohol. There are 2 varieties. 

  • Simple fatty liver:  There is fat deposition in liver but there is no inflammation of liver or liver cell damage.
  • NASH ( Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis) : There is inflammation and liver cell damage along with fat deposition in liver. NASH can lead to porogrssive liver damage and cirrhosis.

    2. Alcohol-Related Fatty Liver Disease (ALD): As the name suggests, it is caused by heavy drinking.  As the liver tries to break down the alcohol that is ingested, the harmful products of alcohol breakdown damage the liver. Continued alcohol intake will lead to alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

    The Connection Between Diet and Liver Health

    Now let’s get back to the impact of diet on causing fatty liver disease. 

    • Fatty liver disease occurs due to the accumulation of too much triglyceride (a type of fats found in our body) in the liver. The disease is not caused by eating foods rich in fats, but having an unhealthy, imbalanced, and nutrient-deficient diet can predispose you to the condition.
    • Excessive intake of proteins and carbs predispose to fatty liver. Red meat, sweets, and sugars can lead to fatty liver.
    • An overall energy excess caused by eating a high energy dense diet ( fast food, fried food), over eating, and frequent eating are associated with fatty liver.
    • Insulin resistance leads to increased triglycerides levels and uptake of fatty acids in the liver, causing further fat storage in the liver.
    • Drinking too much alcohol won’t necessarily cause fat deposition but cause inflammation in the liver, ultimately the risk factor for developing fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis. So, if you already have this condition, you should stay away from alcohol.

    Other risk factors causing fatty liver disease include:

    • Obesity
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes ( type2) 
    • Hypertriglyceridemia
    • Rapid weight loss 
    • Steroid drugs

    All these risk factors have one thing in common: an improper and unhealthy diet can cause them. Some foods affect the liver and its function in several ways. See the chart that mentions these food items. 

    Alcohol

    Alcohol

    Excessive alcohol consumption is a common cause of liver disease. Every time the liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. Although the liver can develop new cells, prolonged drinking for many years can reduce the liver’s ability to regenerate. This leads to permanent damage to your liver.

    Refined grains

    Highly refined grains found in white bread or pasta, get converted into sugar content and increase blood glucose levels. As this content is hard to process, it ends up as fat in the liver.

    Fried foods

    Fried foods like chips, wafers, pakodas are high in saturated fat. Eating them in more quantity can make it difficult for your liver to do its job. Over time it leads to inflammation, and scarring of the liver.
    Refined Sugar

    Eating sweet foods containing a high amount of sugar (corn syrup) can damage the liver by causing a buildup of fat in the liver that can lead to liver disease.
    Red Meat

    Red meat is rich in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Eating red meat in excess amounts can cause fatty acid deposition in the liver leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that increases the risk of liver failure.

     

    Foods that your Liver loves

    Your eating style should combine the kinds of foods that have healthy fats, antioxidants, and complex carbohydrates. These are the magic food items that help reduce fat in your liver.

    Here is a list of food items you should choose to ensure a happy and healthy liver.

    1. Fish and Seafood
    2. Fruits
    3. Whole Grains
    4. Nuts
    5. Olive Oil
    6. Vegetables
    7. Avocados
    8. Legumes

    Conclusion

    Now you know that an unhealthy or unbalanced diet can predispose you to fatty liver disease. Hence, improving your diet by eating more fibre, fruits and vegetables can do wonders and keep nasty fat away from the liver.

    Don’t forget to get a planned and individualized diet from your doctor and dietician.

    For any queries regarding the impact of diet on fatty liver disease, get in touch with our experts!

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