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Why is Fatty Liver Disease on The Rise?

written by Dr. Christine Bishara - Apr 4, 2022

Photo Credit: by Andres Ayrton,
Photo Credit: by Andres Ayrton,

The liver is the largest organ in our body and performs many vital functions that help keep us healthy. These include:

1-Filtration: The liver helps our body’s detoxification process by removing toxins from the bloodstream.

2-Storing vitamins and minerals.

3-Regulating the production of amino acids.

4-Storing excess glucose in the form of glycogen which can be reconverted back to glucose when needed.

5-Producing Glutathione, a potent antioxidant which helps fight free radicals that cause damage to cells.

6-Metabolizing most drugs to make them better absorbed in the body.

7-Producing bile which helps to remove waste and break down fats.

The most common causes of liver diseases are alcohol, Hepatitis infections, certain medications and fatty liver.

According to the American Liver Foundation, there is a rise in liver disease and in particular, the number of cases of Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) which has doubled in the past twenty years and is expected to continue to rise. This can largely be attributed to the increase in obesity rates with obesity now affecting up to 40% of the US population.

With the rise of NAFLD comes other complications, including the increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and other medical problems.

While obesity rates can explain the rise of NAFLD, other factors can contribute to the presence of fatty liver. These include:

• Genetic factors


• Certain medications

High cholesterol/triglycerides

• Certain infections

Many times, fatty liver disease is asymptomatic, but some symptoms and signs of liver disease include right upper quadrant abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and fullness, jaundice, fatigue and depression. Liver enzymes may also become elevated.

What can one do to lower their risk of developing fatty liver disease?

Research shows that the single best way to control or reverse NAFLD is through weight loss. Even weight loss of 10% of your body weight has shown significant improvement.

Certain types of foods are better than others. Here are some suggestions for ways you can achieve a successful weight loss regimen.

-Eat a diet rich in high fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits and legumes. Soy rich foods such as tofu have also been shown to decrease incidence of fatty liver as the protein content in soy appears to decrease triglyceride and fat build up in the liver.

-Leafy green vegetables such as spinach have also been shown to decrease incidence of fatty liver. Studies showed raw spinach was more powerful than cooked spinach, probably because of the higher polyphenol amount in raw vs cooked spinach.

-Supplements such as turmeric and vitamin E have also been shown to decrease incidence of fatty liver, possibly through their anti-inflammatory effects.

In a recent study, Coffee can improve digestion, prevent liver disease: Study | Health - Hindustan Times coffee was also found to decrease incidence of fatty liver. It is believed that coffee stimulates the production of cholecystokinin, a hormone that helps in the production of bile which aids in digestion. Latte anyone?

As always, if you have fatty liver disease or any medical problems, consult with your doctor before starting any medications or supplements. If you’d like additional advice on how to be successful in your weight loss goals, check out my article from February



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