Fatty Liver Disease | Possibly the Biggest Threat to Your Health? Plus How to Avoid It

Hearing the words “fatty liver” may immediately conjure up thoughts of alcoholics, and the damage to your liver that occurs after years of excessive drinking.

But the truth is 1 out of 4 Americans is at risk for fatty liver disease — more specifically non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and it currently affects nearly 100 million people, including children, in the United States alone. The number one risk factor currently is obesity.

Fatty liver is often accompanied by an elevation in liver enzymes—a sign of liver inflammation that if left unchecked, will cause irreversible liver damage.

Even scarier, NAFLD is a silent disease, so you might not even know if you have it until it’s too late, and you find yourself on the transplant list. NAFLD is rapidly becoming the number one reason to end up needing a liver transplant. So, if your doctor has told you that you have a fatty liver, it’s time to stop brushing it off as something that’s not important or that doesn’t have a natural solution.

The good news is that with nutrition and lifestyle changes, you can improve your liver function and greatly reduce your risk of developing this serious condition. In fact, I developed my DETOX DUO supplement to act as the ultimate daily dose of liver-supporting nutrients to help with issues like fatty liver.

But before I get to my expert solution, let’s dive into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, what causes it, and how it’s become such a big problem, not just in America but the entire world.

What is fatty liver disease?

Unlike the typical fatty liver disease, which is caused by alcohol consumption, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a disease caused by nutrition and lifestyle. Studies have directly linked NAFLD to obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, this disease is another condition caused by our modern lifestyles, lack of exercise, poor diet, and chronic stress.

NAFLD is characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver, which scientifically is referred to as hepatic steatosis. Technically speaking, NAFLD is diagnosed having a liver that is more than 5 to 10 percent liver fat by weight and is quickly becoming the most common liver disorder in the Western world. In the beginning stages of the disease, there are no signs or symptoms that NAFLD is occuring, but testing for liver enzymes can reveal the issue early on. When it becomes more serious, tests like a liver ultrasound and liver MRI can help detail the extent of the fatty liver. At that point, it’s very important to treat NAFLD since if left unchecked, it can progress all the way to cirrhosis, which can be fatal and may require a liver transplant.

NAFLD primarily affects those that are overweight or struggle with any other metabolic conditions mentioned above, but it is also increasingly affecting children and teens. This is shocking to learn. How could such a young person be affected by such a serious illness? The answer lies in our modern lifestyle — more superficially, with our high-sugar, high-fat, high in processed foods diet.

Unlike the typical fatty liver disease, which is caused by alcohol consumption, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a disease caused by nutrition and lifestyle. Studies have directly linked NAFLD to obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, this disease is another condition caused by our modern lifestyles, lack of exercise, poor diet, and chronic stress.

NAFLD is characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver, which scientifically is referred to as hepatic steatosis. Technically speaking, NAFLD is diagnosed having a liver that is more than 5 to 10 percent liver fat by weight and is quickly becoming the most common liver disorder in the Western world. In the beginning stages of the disease, there are no signs or symptoms that NAFLD is occuring, but testing for liver enzymes can reveal the issue early on. When it becomes more serious, tests like a liver ultrasound and liver MRI can help detail the extent of the fatty liver. At that point, it’s very important to treat NAFLD since if left unchecked, it can progress all the way to cirrhosis, which can be fatal and may require a liver transplant.

NAFLD primarily affects those that are overweight or struggle with any other metabolic conditions mentioned above, but it is also increasingly affecting children and teens. This is shocking to learn. How could such a young person be affected by such a serious illness? The answer lies in our modern lifestyle — more superficially, with our high-sugar, high-fat, high in processed foods diet.

What REALLY causes fatty liver disease?

When I talk to my patients about dietary changes that can prevent NAFLD, the most common question I get is: Should I be eating less fat? The name “fatty liver” suggests it might be caused by dietary fat. But the truth is, studies actually show that refined carbohydrates — like those found in soda, candy, white flour, cereal, and packed baked goods — are a bigger contributor to fatty liver than actual dietary fat.

This came as a surprise to many scientists. NAFLD was once thought to be caused by a combination of a sedentary lifestyle and obesity triggered by a high-fat diet, but recent evidence suggests that actually a diet high in sugar — particularly sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — increase a person’s risk for NAFLD.

So, what’s the connection? Multiple studies have shown that these types of carbohydrates directly cause inflammation in the liver. As a functional medicine doctor, I write all the time about how chronic inflammation is the root cause of all degenerative chronic diseases, and NAFLD is no different.

And here’s the even more surprising part. Not all fats are created equal when it comes to fatty liver disease. Studies show that while a diet high in saturated fats — like those found in red meat and processed meats — can upregulate the processes that cause fatty liver by creating more inflammation and fat storage in the liver, whereas anti-inflammatory fats like omega-3 fatty acids may actually be a way to decrease your risk for this condition.

Yep — you read that correctly. Healthy fats can actually help reverse fatty liver.

How Do You Reverse Fatty Liver Disease?

There are no prescription drugs or approved medical treatments for NAFLD, which means that nutrition and lifestyle changes are the first line of defense for both preventing and treating NAFLD in the early stages. The most effective approach combines:
  1. Lifestyle changes that help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
  2. A diet rich in foods that prevent NAFLD, while avoiding foods that contribute to NAFLD
  3. Daily practices that support overall liver health and detoxification

Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight is key to preventing NAFLD. For example, one study showed that NAFLD is found in only 15 percent of non-obese patients and as high as 65 or 85 percent of obese and extremely obese patients, respectively.

So, weight management is one of the key interventions for reversing fatty liver. If you’re looking for tips for weight loss and healthy weight management, check out my blog about the real secret to weight loss without counting calories.

Beyond weight management, diet quality is a huge factor in NAFLD. When I work with a patient to support liver health, I recommend a whole foods anti-inflammatory diet. That means eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and healthy fats like fish and olive oil. Beyond that, there are specific foods that directly promote fat storage in the liver, and others that directly support a healthier liver.

How Do You Reverse
Fatty Liver Disease?

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Eat: Olive Oil

Olive oil is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, the exact type of healthy fats that help reverse and prevent NAFLD. In fact, one study showed that an olive oil-rich diet decreases the accumulation of fat in the liver and improves blood sugar levels.

Avoid: Saturated Fats

Saturated fats found in grain-fed and processed meats increase the risk of NAFLD. Avoiding a diet rich in saturated fats, and increasing anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats will help keep fatty liver at bay.

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Eat: Walnuts

A large study performed in China showed that nut consumption was associated with a lower risk of NAFLD, and that people with the condition who eat walnuts regularly have better test results than those who don’t.

Avoid: Bacon

Fats are key to preventing NAFLD, but unfortunately, not all fats are created equal. In fact, processed red meat — like the meat found in bacon — is associated with an increased risk of NAFLD.

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Eat: Oats

Studies show that a whole-grain, fiber-rich diet is associated with a reduced risk of NAFLD, and that oats in particular can help reduce fat levels in the liver. Therefore, a great substitution for white flour is adding gluten-free oats to your diet. If you’re not sure where to start, try an overnight oats recipe for breakfast.

Avoid: White Bread

Refined carbohydrates are directly linked to NAFLD, and one of the most common sources of these refined carbohydrates is white bread. Avoiding white bread, especially packaged bread that is made with refined flour and preservatives, is a great way to decrease general inflammation in the body.

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Eat: Caffeine

Studies show that regular coffee drinking lowers the odds of developing cirrhosis if you already have NAFLD. And it’s not just coffee either, but any drink — such as green or black tea — that contains caffeine. Researchers hypothesize this has something to do with how caffeine may decrease inflammation in the liver. Just make sure you’re not drinking sugar-filled coffee drinks; instead, try plain black or green tea or coffee, or add some unsweetened nut milk and stevia for sweetness, if needed.

Avoid: Juice

Juice, especially the expensive juices found at your trendy neighborhood juice bar, are often marketed as “healthy.” But the truth is that juice is a sugar bomb that can contibute to NAFLD, and it’s best avoided for many reasons. If you do order a juice, make sure it’s made with only vegetables or even better, opt for a green smoothie that contains a vegan protein powder (like the Happy Gut® Cleanse Shake) and preserves the fiber from the fruit.

Avoid: Candy

As we already learned, high-fructose corn syrup is directly linked to NAFLD, and one of the biggest sources of this type of sugar is candy. It might seem harmless to pop a few gummy worms or hard candies throughout the day, but this also acts as a sugar bomb to your liver. Beware: look for hidden sources of high-fructose corn syrup, like packaged salad dressings and tomato sauce.
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Eat: Berries

Instead of eating candy throughout the day, try snacking on low-sugar fruits like berries, bananas, and avocados throughout the day. These foods can act as a sweet treat without the damage to your liver health.

Avoid: Apples

High-fructose corn syrup is a manufactured sugar that is best avoided, but fructose also exists in nature, mainly in certain fruits. If you’re looking to support the liver and prevent NAFLD, make sure when you’re eating high-fructose fruits — like apples, grapes, and watermelon — you’re only doing eating them in moderation.

Eating and avoiding the foods above is a great way to set up a foundation for preventing NAFLD. But in my practice, I have found patients often need some extra support, so it’s worth exploring strategies that supercharge your protection of liver health on a daily basis. Luckily, I developed a supplement just for that.

Detox Duo for Protecting
and Healing the Liver

If you struggle with fatigue, mood swings, unbalanced hormones, or brain fog it could be a sign that your liver needs a little extra support. This is especially true if you think you might be at risk for NAFLD due to dietary or lifestyle habits. My DETOX DUO supplement both protects and helps the liver heal from the daily onslaught of chemicals, toxins, and foods that can threaten your health.

It’s specifically designed to deliver the nutrients your liver needs to function at full capacity, such as:
HAPPY GUT® Detox Duo

N-acetyl cysteine: An antioxidant amino acid that helps replenish glutathione, the body’s master intracellular detox molecule.

Green tea extract: A heavily researched polyphenol-rich antioxidant that supports liver detoxification.

Trace minerals like zinc, manganese, and molybdenum: These minerals serve as important cofactors for detoxification enzymes.

Taurine: A special amino acid that improves brain function and supports bile acid formation for a healthy liver.

The DETOX DUO helps you support liver health in the form of a quick and easy daily supplement. My patients get great results when they add this supplement to their routine. But don’t take my word for it! Here’s what they had to say:

“No need for coffee to boost energy and I love the increased mental clarity.”

– Allessandra J., verified buyer

Grab Detox Duo Now

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