The first line of treatment for NAFLD and NASH is weight loss, done through a combination of calorie reduction, exercise, and healthy eating. Weight loss can reduce fat and inflammation in the liver. The following lifestyle changes are important in managing your disease.
This is one of the best treatments for NAFLD and NASH, because it moderates the conditions that contribute to fatty liver disease. Losing just 3 to 5 percent of your body weight can reduce fat in your liver; losing 7 percent can decrease inflammation as well. If you are overweight or obese, doctors typically recommend you gradually lose 7 to 10 percent of your body weight over the course of one year. Rapid weight loss through fasting is not recommended, as it can make NAFLD worse.
The best way to lose weight is done by:
While following a healthy diet and maintaining a normal body weight may not seem like a specific treatment, it’s essential to managing NAFLD and NASH.
If you’ve tried to lose weight in the past without success, talk to your healthcare provider about getting help. You may be a candidate for a medically-supervised weight loss program that employs medication along with diet and exercise. Alternatively, there are weight-loss (bariatric) surgical procedures and endoscopic therapies that work by either physically limiting the amount of food your stomach can hold, or reducing the amount of nutrients and calories your body absorbs. Talk to your doctor about which option may be best for you.
Closely monitor your blood sugar and take medications as prescribed.
Limit your intake of saturated fats, which are found in meat, poultry skin, butter, shortening, milk and dairy products (except fat-free versions). Replace them with monounsaturated fats (olive, canola, and peanut oils) and polyunsaturated fats (corn, safflower, soybean oils, and many types of nuts). Particularly helpful in reducing heart disease are omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat found in oily fish such as salmon, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Healthy eating combined with exercise – and taking cholesterol-lowering medications if prescribed by your doctor – will help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels where they need to be.
Don’t do things that put extra stress on your liver.
A multidisciplinary approach to treatment that involves nutritionists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, and other specialists as needed – in addition to your hepatologist – is essential to successfully manage the underlying metabolic conditions associated with fatty liver disease.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, although a few are being studied with promising results. In the next few years, it’s expected that there will be several drugs available for treatment. In the meantime, there a few alternative treatments that could be helpful, although none have been proven to cure nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
In studies of people with NAFLD, those who drank coffee had less liver damage than those who drank little or no coffee. Caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of liver fibrosis in several liver diseases, including NAFLD. Studies suggest you need to drink more than two cups per day to gain this benefit, however, some people do not tolerate it well. But for those who currently do drink caffeinated coffee – enjoy!
This vitamin, which is an antioxidant, theoretically works by reducing or neutralizing the damage caused by inflammation. Some evidence suggests vitamin E supplements may be helpful for people with liver damage due to NAFLD and NASH. Researchers in one study found that a daily dose of the natural form of vitamin E – the kind that comes from food sources and isn’t made in a laboratory – improved NASH in study participants overall by reducing fat and inflammation although not scarring. This medication is not for everyone and may have potential side effects as well. Discuss the potential benefits with your doctor.
Last updated on November 1st, 2023 at 11:09 am