If you’ve been told you have excess liver fat or have been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, it can feel rather devastating.
“A fatty liver can be the result of excessive alcohol intake and is usually the first cause that comes to mind when this is discussed. However, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of a fatty liver,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements,” and if left untreated it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure. It can also exacerbate current chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity.”
There’s good news, however. When it comes to caring for your liver health and reducing fatty liver disease, your lifestyle can play a significant role. “Diet is a primary way to treat a fatty liver and requires both adding certain foods and removing others,” says Best. “Foods high in fiber help to reduce the amount of fat being stored in the liver. These foods include things such as legumes, whole grains, as well as fruit and vegetables.”
“Integrating more whole grains in place of refined carbs in your breakfast is a habit that can help reduce fat in the liver,” says Best. “This habit can significantly increase fiber and decrease the fat and inflammatory ingredients found in many refined carbs.”
Consumption of added sugar on a regular basis can contribute to greater liver fat. According to a Journal of Hepatology study, even a “moderate amount” can sometimes almost double liver fat production.
Another thing you can do if you’re craving something a bit sweeter in the morning is “opt for fruit instead of pastries,” says Best. This will still give you some helpful fibers and satisfy a sweet craving without the added sugars.
“Fatty liver (non-alcohol related) is more likely to occur with high LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels and in those who are overweight or obese,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Family Immunity Cookbook. And according to Current Atherosclerosis Reports, regular consumption of processed meats can contribute to higher cholesterol and other heart issues.
“Processed meats like bacon and sausage are higher in artery-clogging saturated fat and calories, so instead try eating more fruits and veggies at breakfast and opt for very small amounts of processed meats on occasion,” suggests Amidor.
“Obesity and being overweight is a risk factor for fatty liver, so being mindful of how you balance your breakfast plate can help,” says Amidor, “and having a variety of foods on your plate allows for a greater variety of nutrients and balance in terms of calories too.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine emphasizes that losing weight can help reduce the fat in your liver. Eating a balanced breakfast can be a great way to start your day as you pursue your weight loss goals.
“The USDA recommends that half your plate is fruits and veggies, one-quarter is starches (preferably whole grain), and one-quarter is protein, with a side of yogurt or low/non-fat milk,” says Amidor.
Skipping out on those mimosas or bloody Mary’s may be a good idea if you’re trying to reduce liver fat. In a recent study published in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, it was found that even moderate amounts of alcohol can impact your liver health, especially in those with existing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
“Fatty liver disease (which is alcohol related) can happen over time, especially if you’re a heavy drinker,” says Amidor. “One or two drinks on occasion during breakfast-like a mimosa-is okay, but avoid regularly drinking alcohol at breakfast.”