Nutrition for Fatty Liver Disease

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Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease (MASLD), previously known as Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, results when the liver cells become filled with fat. This can be caused by too much sugar and fat in the diet and inadequate physical activity. A high amount of fat in the liver can cause damage to the organ leaving it permanently scarred and damaged. If not corrected, this can lead to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant. 

At GI for Kids, we specialize in treatment of fatty liver disease. To avoid the risk of permanent liver damage, MASLD should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed. The approach is multidisciplinary and may include meeting with Dr. Phillips in our Liver Clinic and with Madden Wilson, our Registered Dietitian. Because nutrition is a mainstay in the treatment of fatty liver, these appointments are very important to attend.

Treatment for MASLD may include weight loss, making specific changes to your diet, and regular exercise. If overweight, a 5-10% weight loss may be recommended to reverse the damage caused by MASLD; however, diet changes alone can  positively affect the liver. 

Nutrition Recommendations

Fats in the diet have important functions such as brain development, vitamin absorption and body temperature regulation. However, if we eat too many fats, those we don’t use can be stored on the liver. It is important to limit excessive fats in the diet, especially saturated fats including cheese or other dairy fat and red meat. Most Americans need to increase the amount of unsaturated fats in the diet from sources including nuts, seeds, and fish. You can read more about the different types of fats in the diet and how they affect your liver here.

Possibly more impactful that limiting fats in the diet is limiting added sugars. Carbohydrates from both natural food sources and added sugars are digested to glucose in the body. Glucose molecules sit on your liver waiting to be used for energy. We use glucose to do our daily activities as well as exercise. Excessive portions of carbohydrates, especially added sugars, lead to an excess amount of glucose on the liver. Glucose not used for energy is stored as triglycerides, a type of fat. The typical American diet contains a large amount of added sugars, especially in the form of sugary beverages. Eliminating sodas, juice, and sweet tea from the diet may be a crucial first step to treating fatty liver disease.

Here are some simple changes to make to your diet to improve liver health: 

  • Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Aim for non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli and whole fruits; not juices! 
  • Avoid sugary beverages such as soda, juices, lemonade or sports drinks. Aim for water, unsweetened tea, or zero-sugar. 
  • Choose lean proteins such as: fish, poultry, beans and nuts. Limit red meats, cold cuts, bacon, and other processed meats
  • Choose whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, or whole wheat pasta. 
  • Use olive oil or canola oil for cooking and salads. Limit butter and avoid trans fats.  

Exercise Recommendations

Exercising and a healthy diet work extremely well together to promote weight loss and reduce the effects of NAFLD. The recommendation for most children is at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Some examples of exercise may include: 

  • A brisk walk 
  • Dancing! 
  • Swimming at a local pool (indoor or outdoor) 
  • Bike riding 
  • Yoga 
  • Lifting weights 
  • Playing sports with friends  


The liver is one of the most important organs in our body. It is up to us to make sure we keep it healthy. For further and personalized information, please make an appointment with Madden Wilson, RDN, LDN today! 


Written by Karalina Valente, DI and Madden Wilson, RDN, LDN



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