Non alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

What is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is a buildup of fat in the liver. NAFLD can be harmless, but sometimes it may cause the liver to swell. It is a common condition.


What are the symptoms of NALFD?

Many people do not have any symptoms. If you have NAFLD, you may feel fullness or pain in the middle or upper right side of the abdomen. You may feel extremely tired (fatigued).


What are the risk factors?

A wide range of things can increase your risk of NAFLD, including certain medicines and genetic disorders. The most common risk factors for NAFLD are obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. It is not caused by drinking alcohol.


How can my doctor tell if I have NAFLD?

To diagnose NAFLD, your doctor may check your blood and order a scan of your liver. If your doctor thinks you may have a more severe liver disease, you may need a liver biopsy. In this procedure, your doctor inserts a needle through your skin and removes a small piece of tissue from your liver. This tissue is looked at under a microscope to check for signs of severe liver disease.


How is NAFLD treated?

People who have NAFLD usually do not need treatment. The most important thing is to focus on what has caused your NAFLD. Losing weight gradually (1 to 2 pounds per week) may reduce the amount of fat in your liver. However, losing weight quickly may make NAFLD worse. Ask your doctor for advice on how to lose weight in a safe and healthy way. If your cholesterol and blood sugar levels are high, your doctor may give you medicine to lower them. If a medicine you take is causing your NAFLD, your doctor may consider switching you to a different medicine.


What can I expect?

For most people, NAFLD is harmless and does not cause serious health problems. NAFLD usually does not affect how well the liver works. However, in rare cases, NAFLD may stop the liver from working as it should. Although no one can tell for sure who will have liver problems from NAFLD, it is more likely to happen in people who have diabetes or who are very overweight.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Diet

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition that causes fat to accumulate in and around the liver. The disease makes it harder for the liver to work the way that it should. Following a healthy diet can help to keep nonalcoholic fatty liver disease under control. It can also help to prevent or improve conditions that are associated with the disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Along with regular exercise, this diet:

  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Helps to control blood sugar levels.
  • Helps to improve the way that the body uses insulin.

What do I need to know about this diet?

  • Use the glycemic index (GI) to plan your meals. The index tells you how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar. Choose low-GI foods. These foods take a longer time to raise blood sugar.
  • Keep track of how many calories you take in. Eating the right amount of calories will help you to achieve a healthy weight.
  • You may want to follow a Mediterranean diet. This diet includes a lot of vegetables, lean meats or fish, whole grains, fruits, and healthy oils and fats.

What foods can I eat?


Whole grains, such as whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, crackers, tortillas, cereals, and pasta. Stone-ground whole wheat. Pumpernickel bread. Unsweetened oatmeal. Bulgur. Barley. Quinoa. Brown or wild rice. Corn or whole-wheat flour tortillas.


Lettuce. Spinach. Peas. Beets. Cauliflower. Cabbage. Broccoli. Carrots. Tomatoes. Squash. Eggplant. Herbs. Peppers. Onions. Cucumbers. Brussels sprouts. Yams and sweet potatoes. Beans. Lentils.


Bananas. Apples. Oranges. Grapes. Papaya. Mango. Pomegranate. Kiwi. Grapefruit. Cherries.

Meats and Other Protein Sources

Seafood and shellfish. Lean meats. Poultry. Tofu.


Low-fat or fat-free dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese.


Water. Sugar-free drinks. Tea. Coffee. Low-fat or skim milk. Milk alternatives, such as soy or almond milk. Real fruit juice.


Mustard. Relish. Low-fat, low-sugar ketchup and barbecue sauce. Low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise.

Sweets and Desserts

Sugar-free sweets.

Fats and Oils

Avocado. Canola or olive oil. Nuts and nut butters. Seeds.

The items listed above may not be a complete list of recommended foods or beverages. Contact your dietitian for more options.

What foods are not recommended?

Palm oil and coconut oil. Processed foods. Fried foods. Sweetened drinks, such as sweet tea, milkshakes, snow cones, iced sweet drinks, and sodas. Alcohol. Sweets. Foods that contain a lot of salt or sodium.

The items listed above may not be a complete list of foods and beverages to avoid. Contact your dietitian for more information.


  • What is the best treatment for me?
  • What complications can I expect?
  • What changes should I make to my diet?
  • What exercises are good for me?
  • Are there any medicines I should take?
  • Will I have any liver damage?
  • How quickly should I lose weight?
  • What is causing my nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • Are there any medicines I should avoid taking?



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