Fatty Liver Disease: How to Improve a Fatty Liver with Coordinated Care from University Hospitals

Fellowship-trained gastrointestinal physicians, surgeons and liver specialists at University Hospitals offer comprehensive medical services for patients with fatty liver disease - a condition that means you have fat deposits in your liver. These deposits can keep your liver from functioning normally to remove toxins from your blood.

Understanding the Risk Factors for Fatty Liver Disease

Healthcare providers are seeing a steady rise in fatty liver disease. While doctors don’t know the exact cause of fatty liver disease, obesity is the most common trigger. Obesity in the U.S. has doubled in the last decade. While fatty liver disease is most common in middle age, children and young adults can get it, too. Risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having diabetes or prediabetes
  • Having high blood fat levels - either triglycerides or LDL “bad” cholesterol
  • Having high blood pressure

Together, these risk factors can cause a condition called metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome often have fatty liver disease. They also are more likely to have heart disease.

Expert Diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease

The highly-trained multidisciplinary team at University Hospitals seeks to understand the whole person to create a treatment plan for improved overall outcomes. Because fatty liver disease usually has no symptoms, it may be diagnosed during a routine lab to check your liver function. If the liver test results are abnormal and you are obese, your doctor may suspect fatty liver disease. Other tests may be used to make the diagnosis, including:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan
  • Liver biopsy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Transient elastography: Using ultrasound and low-frequency elastic waves for assessment of hepatic fibrosis.
  • Ultrasound

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Fatty Liver Disease, including Recommendations for Fatty Liver Diet

Many of the conditions that contribute to fatty liver disease can be improved through lifestyle changes, including an improved fatty liver diet. This includes eating more of a plant-based diet with more fruits, vegetables and high-fiber plants such as whole grains and legumes. It is also important to reduce your intake of sugar, salt, trans fat, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates.

Our team works with patients to help them understand how small changes can have a positive impact on fatty liver disease, but also overall health. Recommendations for fatty liver disease include lifestyle changes such as:

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Being aware of medicine side effects, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
  • Controlling your diabetes
  • Losing weight
  • Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides