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Everything You Should Know About Fatty Liver Disease

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Everything You Should Know About Fatty Liver Disease

Gastro Sciences | by Dr. Ajay Mandal | Published on 15/04/2023

Overview: Understanding Fatty Liver

Once our biological clocks approach the 30s, certain changes in our bodies may indicate impending medical conditions which can be dangerous. One such condition which has become prevalent is fatty liver. Fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a condition which causes fat to build up in the liver. 

The condition is becoming increasingly common, with up to 25% of the population being affected worldwide. This blog contains information about fatty liver disease and its types, symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only and does not replace the significance of a doctor’s consultation.

How Severe Are Fatty Liver Diseases?

Fatty liver disease is generally divided into three grades - Grade-1, Grade-2 and Grade-3. The severity of the disease is usually determined by the amount of fat in the liver, which is graded on a scale from 0 to 3.

  • Grade 1 fatty liver, also known as mild fatty liver, is the earliest stage of the disease. In this stage, there is a small amount of fat accumulation in the liver, usually less than 5% of the liver's weight. Grade 1 fatty liver is often asymptomatic and can be detected through routine blood tests or imaging studies such as ultrasound or MRI.
  • Grade 2 fatty liver, also known as moderate fatty liver, is the next stage of the disease. In this stage, there is a higher amount of fat accumulation in the liver (between 5% and 33% of the liver's weight). Grade 2 fatty liver can cause apparent symptoms, such as fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and mild liver enlargement. Similar to grade 1 fatty liver, grade 2 fatty liver can also be detected through routine blood or imaging tests.

Both grade 1 and grade 2 fatty liver are reversible with lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and exercise. If left untreated, however, fatty liver disease can progress to more severe stages, such as grade 3 (severe) fatty liver can lead to liver failure.

What Are The Symptoms Of Fatty Liver?

Fatty liver disease is often asymptomatic, meaning there may be no symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms may include - 

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Enlarged liver

How Many Types Of Fatty Liver Diseases Are There?

There are two types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

  • Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - AFLD is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. It can range from mild steatosis (fat accumulation) to severe liver damage, including cirrhosis. AFLD is the most common cause of liver disease worldwide.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD is caused by factors other than alcohol, such as obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood lipids. It is further divided into two subtypes: non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NAFL is characterized by fat accumulation in the liver, while NASH is characterized by inflammation and damage to liver cells.

How Does Fatty Liver Occur?

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to liver damage and inflammation. The liver tries to break down the alcohol, but when it is unable to, it stores the excess in the liver cells. On the other hand, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is caused by various factors, including obesity, insulin resistance, high blood lipids, and metabolic syndrome. In NAFLD, the liver cells become less sensitive to insulin, causing the liver to store more fat.

Additionally, there are several risk factors which can increase the probability of developing fatty liver disease which includes - 

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Malnutrition

What Are The Treatment Options For Fatty Liver?

The treatment of the fatty liver depends on the type and severity of the condition. For alcoholic fatty liver diseases, doctors often recommend cutting down on alcohol as it can damage the liver. If case of severe damage to the liver, a liver transplant may become inevitable.

On the other hand, the doctor may prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. In the worst case, a liver transplant becomes an effective method. Treatment options for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) focus on lifestyle changes, including -

  • Losing weight
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing underlying conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Avoiding alcohol and unnecessary medications
  • Getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B
  • Monitoring liver function regularly


Fatty liver disease is a common condition that can be caused by various factors. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms, as early detection and treatment can prevent liver damage and the progression of the disease. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing underlying conditions, you can reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease.


Is fatty liver dangerous?

Yes, fatty liver is dangerous and causes major problems for most people. If left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress into cirrhosis. Cirrhosis in the liver can eventually lead to liver failure or liver cancer and may even result in death.

How to reverse fatty liver?

While our liver has an amazing ability to repair itself, grade 1 fatty liver and grade 2 fatty liver symptoms can be managed with medications and lifestyle modifications like avoiding alcohol, losing weight, etc. It is possible to reduce liver fat and inflammation and reverse liver damage during the initial stages.

How to get rid of fatty liver?

The doctor may recommend the following to get rid of fatty liver. However, these methods are effective in the case of grade 1 and grade 2 fatty liver during the early stages - 

  • Lose weight
  • Choose a healthy diet
  • Exercise and be more active
  • Control your diabetes
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Protect your liver

Discuss your symptoms with the doctor to ensure early diagnosis and effective treatment.

What foods help cure a fatty liver?

Fatty liver can be cured in its initial stages if the condition is not severe. Here are some dietary tips which can help you reverse fatty liver disease - 

  • Fish and seafood
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Olive oil

What to eat for fatty liver?

The doctors may recommend the following foods in your diet to help cure fatty liver - 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids - These are found in fish, fish oil, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, leafy veggies, etc. 
  • Monounsaturated fats which are abundant in plant sources like olives, nuts, and avocados.