Fatty liver or Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is build up of fats in the liver tissue. It may occur because of difficulties in breaking down of fats. Obesity, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are major risk factors. Diet is the major contributor to fatty liver and different types of diets have different effects on the liver.
Western dietary patterns can lead to the fatty liver. But healthy dietary patterns can provide protection towards the development of the fatty liver.
Healthy diet decreases pancreatic postprandial insulin secretion, helps increase insulin sensitivity and provides gut-friendly bacteria which reduces fat uptake and fat synthesis in liver tissue. It also helps alleviate inflammation of liver tissue.
To date lifestyle and dietary modifications are the main established treatment guidelines for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
- Consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables are protective for the liver.
- Excessive consumption of carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, protein from meat, higher intakes of soft drinks, sweets and red meat, processed meats are found to be detrimental for liver health.
- Lifestyle modifications involve weight loss through calorie-restricted diet and increasing physical activity. Along with fatty liver, it also helps improve dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular risk.
- You need to adhere to diets low in carbohydrates and saturated fats and rich in fruits and vegetables.
- The protective effects of high intake of fruits and vegetables on NAFLD prevention are due to a high content of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in these food groups. Phytochemicals and antioxidants are anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Fibers play an important role in maintaining blood glucose, insulin and free fatty acids at the desired level. This explains the reason why individuals adhering to the Mediterranean diet have lower prevalence of fatty liver. There are high amounts of fruits and vegetables in this dietary pattern.
- Dairy consumption can reduce the risk of obesity, particularly abdominal obesity, diabetes and hypertension, which are NAFLD risk factors. So reducing on dairy products and preferring low-fat options are better.
- Western dietary pattern including processed sugars and fat, white bread, refined grains, soft drinks, and confectionary, by provision of excess calories and large amounts of sugars such as fructose, can cause rapidly increased blood sugar and insulin levels. Several studies showed a significant association between the Western dietary pattern and obesity. Obese individuals who followed Western dietary patterns were observed to have a greater risk of fat synthesis, one of the causes of NAFLD, compared with lean individuals when fed the same diet.