Liver disease can occur from drinking too much (alcoholic fatty liver disease or AFLD) or from eating too many fried and processed foods (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). In either case, the liver develops an excessive number of fat deposits that overwhelm the organ’s ability to function. Large numbers of fatty deposits eventually will cause the liver to become enlarged, inflamed and filled with scar tissue—a condition called steatohepatitis. Left untreated, steatohepatitis can lead to liver failure and the need for an organ transplant. If your doctor has diagnosed you with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the next step is to discuss what you can do to improve your liver health and prevent organ damage. While early-stage NAFLD usually doesn’t require medical treatment, you can make lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from progressing to the point of irreversible organ damage. How People Get Fatty Liver Disease Many people realize drinking too much alcohol can lead to severe liver damage. Fewer people may realize their diet and lack of exercise can produce similar liver damage, even if they don’t consume alcohol. The non-drinkers most likely to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease include people who: Are middle-aged of either gender Are of Hispanic or Native American ancestry Eat a high-fat diet that includes a lot of fried or processed foods Don’t exercise regularly Are overweight or obese Have type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), high triglycerides or cholesterol, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome While the exact cause is not known, it’s clear NAFLD is linked to many metabolism-related conditions that result from being overweight. If your doctor has diagnosed you with fatty liver disease, the good news is you can take steps to correct the situation by making a few lifestyle changes. Lifestyle Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease Anyone diagnosed with alcoholic fatty liver disease should seek treatment to stop drinking before serious liver damage occurs. Alcohol abuse can be effectively treated through many free and low-cost programs. Ask your healthcare provider how to get started. For both AFLD and NAFLD, most early-stage disease does not require medical treatment. Instead, your doctor may recommend natural treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (and AFLD) in the form of lifestyle changes that include: Avoiding fried and processed foods, such as fast food, snack foods, cold cuts, and other prepackaged items. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and small amounts of healthy fats like olive oil. Exercising regularly. Aim for 150 minutes per week (that’s just 22 minutes per day!) of moderate activity, such as walking, running, aerobics classes, swimming, tennis, basketball or any other physical activity you enjoy. Losing weight to reach a healthy body mass index (BMI) Quitting smoking Taking prescribed medications for conditions like type 2 diabetes and hypertension Medical Treatment for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease The reason lifestyle changes form a crucial strategy in stopping the progression of fatty liver disease to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is because few medical options exist for treating the condition. No medications currently have been approved to treat NASH. Instead, your doctor likely will treat any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your fatty liver disease. These treatments may include: Medications for type 2 diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol Vitamin E supplementation, which shows some benefit for people with NASH. Liver experts consider vitamin E a short-term treatment option for non-diabetic people who have NASH based on a liver biopsy. Talk with your doctor before adding a vitamin E supplement to your diet because it may do more harm to the liver than good. If you’re wondering about weight loss (bariatric) surgery to reduce your body mass and improve your fatty liver symptoms, talk with your doctor to find out if it could be helpful in your specific case. Some studies have shown bariatric surgery reduces liver damage due to NASH, but other studies have correlated rapid weight loss with a worsening of fatty liver disease. Your doctor may recommend slow, steady weight loss before discussing bariatric surgery as an NAFLD treatment. Despite the current lack of medications for treating NAFLD, you should avoid taking herbal supplements or pursuing other natural treatments without first discussing them with your doctor. Some herbs can damage the liver, even in small quantities. Ultimately, the best treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease lies in prevention. By maintaining a healthy body weight, eating fresh, unprocessed foods and exercising regularly, you can help keep your liver in good shape for the rest of your life.