Weight loss or reduction of belly fat (ideally from changes in diet and an increase in physical activity) is the only recommended treatment for most cases of fatty liver disease and NASH.
Weight loss seems to have a very direct effect: as people lose weight, the fatty liver becomes less fatty.
Doctors recommend weight loss for nonalcoholic fatty liver. Weight loss can reduce fat in the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis.
If your doctor thinks that a certain medicine is the cause of your NAFLD, you should stop taking that medicine.
But check with your doctor before stopping the medicine. You may need to get off the medicine gradually, and you might need to switch to another medicine instead (1)
There are no medicines that have been approved to treat NAFLD. Studies are investigating whether a certain diabetes medicine or Vitamin E can help, but more studies are needed.
The most important part of treating alcohol-related fatty liver disease is to stop drinking alcohol. If you need help doing that, you may want to see a therapist or participate in an alcohol recovery program. There are also medicines that can help, either by reducing your cravings or making you feel sick if you drink alcohol.
Both alcoholic fatty liver disease and one type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) can lead to cirrhosis. Doctors can treat the health problems caused by cirrhosis with medicines, operations, and other medical procedures. If the cirrhosis leads to liver failure, you may need a liver transplant (2)
Crash dieting is a bad idea, though, because rapid weight loss (losing 4 pounds a week or more) can wind up damaging the liver.
Crash diets may harm your heart too
Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York City, and author of the forthcoming “Doctor of the Heart: A Life in Medicine,” opposes crash diets (less than 1,200 calories a day) and detox plans like the Master Cleanse.
The Master Cleanse involves consuming a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper — and nothing else — for several days
He says these very low-calorie regimens are based on the false theory that the body needs help eliminating waste.
Research suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What’s more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.
Of course, if sustained weight loss were easy, a lot of today’s health problems would be solved, not just fatty liver disease and NASH.
In addition to encouraging people to lose weight, doctors will often advise people with diabetes who have fatty liver disease or NASH to be vigilant about controlling their blood sugar (3)