Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for NAFLD & NASH

How can my diet help prevent or treat NAFLD and NASH?

If you don’t have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), you may be able to prevent these conditions by eating a healthy diet, limiting your portion sizes, and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you have NAFLD or NASH, your doctor may recommend gradually losing weight if you are overweight or obese.

Your doctor may suggest limiting your intake of fats to help prevent or treat NAFLD or NASH. Fats are high in calories and increase your chance of becoming obese. Four types of fats are

  • saturated fats, found in meat, poultry skin, butter, lard, shortening, and all milk and dairy products except fat-free versions.
  • trans fats, found in foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on the label, such as crackers and snack foods, commercially baked goods such as cookies and cakes, and fried foods such as doughnuts and french fries.
  • monounsaturated fats, found in olive, peanut, and canola oils.
  • polyunsaturated fats, found in greatest amounts in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, and many types of nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. Sources include oily fish such as salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

Replacing saturated fats and trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce your chance of heart disease if you have NAFLD.

Your doctor may suggest other dietary changes to help treat NAFLD and NASH:

  • Eat more low-glycemic index foods—such as most fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods affect your blood glucose less than high-glycemic index foods, such as white bread, white rice, and potatoes.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain large amounts of simple sugars, especially fructose. Fructose is found in sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, and juices.
  • Avoid heavy alcohol use, which can damage your liver. For men, experts define heavy alcohol use as more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, heavy alcohol use is more than 3 drinks per day or more than 7 drinks per week.10

References

November 2016
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Anna Mae Diehl, M.D., Duke University Medical Center, and Brent A. Tetri, M.D., Saint Louis University