Fatty Liver Disease

Do you know what Fatty Liver Disease is? This past Friday, I went to see my nurse practioner, who is a great guy! Time for my yearly physical which I hadn’t had in 2 years! That comes under the heading of do as I say, not as I do.

When I see David, we talk about a bunch of different things. He brought up the Blue Zones which he has recently discovered and told me he and his wife are going to Sardinia, one of the Blue Zones, for vacation. He’s a very cool guy.

Part of our discussion was about fatty liver disease, how it’s becoming an epidemic and why so many people who are getting it don’t drink alcohol.

I thought it was a good topic to put out there and share, hence this post.

In case the term is foreign to you, fatty liver disease is a condition once associated primarily with alcohol consumption. It’s been escalating to epidemic proportions in recent years, especially in Western societies. It’s causing real concern among medical practitioners and health care professionals. What’s especially troubling is people think they’re immune from it if they don’t drink huge quantities of alcohol or don’t drink it at all.

Fatty liver disease actually affects an estimated 25% of people worldwide as of 2021, and it develops when excess fat builds up in your liver cells, negatively affecting your liver’s ability to function properly. This condition has two main types: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As the names suggest, the former results from excessive alcohol consumption, while the latter can develop in people who consume little to no alcohol. NAFLD has seen a dramatic rise, and often occurs alongside conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. All this is really scary stuff for your health!

A little bit about that liver of yours. Your liver is an essential organ with multiple roles, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. A healthy liver helps maintain your overall well-being. When fat constitutes more than 5-10% of the liver’s weight, it can cause inflammation and damage to liver cells. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions like fibrosis, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer.

The main drivers of this epidemic are our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and high-calorie, low-nutrient diets that have become typical in many developed countries. Once again, the Standard American Diet, or SAD, rears its ugly head and casts a huge negative shadow on your health. These factors all contribute to weight gain and obesity, which in turn elevate the risk of fatty liver disease. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes, a condition often associated with obesity and metabolic dysfunction, has also been linked to a higher likelihood of developing NAFLD.

Genetics may also play a role in fatty liver disease. Some individuals seem to be genetically predisposed to fat accumulation in the liver although researchers are still working to understand the exact mechanisms and the genes involved.

How can this escalating health crisis be addressed? Currently, there are no specific drugs approved for treating NAFLD. As always, I recommend and personally prefer prevention and management through lifestyle modifications. This includes eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

A balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and added sugars, and is high in fiber can help you manage your body weight and reduce liver fat. A Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, has been shown to be particularly beneficial. Also, reducing the consumption of processed foods and beverages high in fructose, such as soda and sweets, can help curb liver fat accumulation.

Physical activity is another key component. Regular exercise, even without weight loss, can help reduce liver fat. Activities like walking, cycling, and swimming as well as resistance training have been shown to be effective.

If you are overweight or obese, gradual weight loss and increased physical activity is recommended. A weight loss of even 3-5% of your body weight can reduce liver fat, while losses of up to 10% can potentially reverse liver damage associated with NAFLD. This is encouraging news!

Routine monitoring and early detection are so important in the management of fatty liver disease. Regular check-ups can identify the condition before it progresses to a more severe stage. If diagnosed, close collaboration with your healthcare provider to manage associated conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels is crucial to your future good health.

While these recommendations may seem daunting, please remember even small, incremental changes can have a significant impact. Implementing healthier eating patterns, reducing your portions, gradually increasing physical activity and routinely monitoring health can go a long way in preventing and managing fatty liver disease.

The escalating epidemic of fatty liver disease is an important reminder to all of us that it’s all connected. The same behaviors that contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes also fuel the rise in fatty liver disease. You can take control of your health and wellness, and I’m here to help.

You can reach out to me with questions at cheryl@thinstronghealthy dot com


Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!


Cheryl A Major, CNWC

Cheryl A Major, CNWC


I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get gluten out of your diet. Becoming Gluten Free Me is where to check it out. Learn how gluten affects us and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. You don’t have to suffer with Celiac Disease to benefit from getting gluten out of your life!

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  • Conni

    I was diagnosed with NAFLD several years ago, but given no instructions on what to do about it. What sort of monitoring is expected? Thanks for the great info, and I’d love even more.

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