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Fatty Liver, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Updated on September 19, 2010

The liver has many functions vital to human health. It’s function can be compromised if it accumulates excess fat (fatty liver). The causes of a fatty liver include obesity, certain drugs and toxins, alcoholism and a sedentary lifestyle. There are usually no symptoms associated with the condition. If symptoms are present they may include pain in the upper right abdomen and fatigue.

For many years, it has been believed by health experts that the body shape of overweight individuals is a key indicator in the development of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Apple shaped individuals (excess belly fat) have been considered higher risk for these diseases than pear shaped individuals (excess fat on thighs and backside). However, an apple shape may not be the best indicator. New research has found that the only consistent indicator for these diseases is a fatty liver (excess fat in the liver.) Approximately seventy five percent of obese individuals are found to have fatty livers.

Research has found that a fatty liver is directly related to insulin resistance and high cholesterol and other conditions that lead to heart disease and diabetes. The continual rise of obesity in America is increasing the occurrence of fatty liver disease. One study was conducted with two groups of teenagers. The first group had fatty livers and the livers of the second group were normal. The teens with the fatty livers had glucose and fat metabolism abnormalities which included low levels of good HDL cholesterol. Those teens with normal livers had no indications of metabolic problems.

Another study revealed that fatty liver disease resulted in higher levels of fatty acids in the bloodstream. This increased triglyceride levels which are associated with insulin resistance and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The biggest contributor to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in overweight individuals is inactivity. A four month study was done with overweight animals in which they exercised every day. At the end of the four months there was no signs of fatty liver disease. The next step of the study was to prevent the animals from exercising. After a week, they began to show indications of the fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease can be improved and remedied in a short period of time. Losing weight through proper diet and exercise is the key to reversing fatty liver disease and restoring healthy liver function. A healthy diet should include a high percentage of plant source foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and a low percentage of animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Fast food, junk food, high sugar foods and processed foods should be avoided. More information can be found my article entitled “Healthy Diet Weight Loss.”

Individuals who have not been active should begin with a low impact exercise program. Information about how to use low impact exercise to switch the body into fat burning mode can be found in my article entitled “How to Exercise for Maximum Fat Burning.”


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have fatty liver I feel a long time right abdomen pain so what can i do i have problem to change my lifestyle b/c my appitatete is closed those food such as vegeatables fruit the doctor advice me to lose weight and to do exercise

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fatty liver affected me in 2 major ways.

      My brother-in-law needed a liver transplant about 5 years ago. I offered to be a living donor. However, during testing it was found that my liver was too fatty. I was rejected as a donor. Luckily he was able to receive a liver transplant and it doing well today.

      Two years ago I underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery. My liver has always been fatty and I'm sure it contributed to my high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. I think if I had paid attention to it years ago I could have avoided my operation.

      I have lost about 30 pounds and am doing well. My liver is normal and my cholesterol and triglyceride levels are healthy. A fatty liver is not something to ignore; down the road it will catch up to you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this informative post.

      It is a good time to start thinking about the importance of liver treament with alternative medicines.

      After lots of clinical research and tests, it has been proved that Liv.52 leads to an improvement in the architecture of the liver. Hepatic function tests and needle biopsy specimens show a definite improvement in hepatocellular function and structure. Regular intake of Liv.52 guarantees an increase in the number of the total mass of functioning hepatocytes. Also, the liver enzymes return to normal levels following an increase in total proteins, albumin and haemoglobin.

      We are direct resellers of Himalaya Liv 52 in Europe.Our website will provide a wealth of information, advice and recommendations on how you can improve your liver function using alternative medicines.


    • Ray Thoughts profile image

      Ray Thoughts 

      8 years ago from The East Coast

      Thanks Steve. I just found out I had fatty liver and the doctor proposed a biopsy. I think I will try losing weight before I do the biopsy to see if that helps. I know I am overweight by 30 pounds, and I take prescribed medicine which also affects your liver.

    • Mrs. Obvious profile image

      Mrs. Obvious 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Wow, thanks for this hub. I have a fatty liver, and I didn't know what to do about it or that it could be reversed so quickly. I have been going to the gym for an hour a day an average of 3-5 days a week for the last 9 months. I'm glad to know that even though I'm not losing a bunch of weight I am helping my body! Come to think of it, I haven't had those weird pains in my upper right abdomen for a long time like I used to. Yea!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      What an excellent article. My son has this problem and so far he has been unwilling to make the changes you listed. Thanks for the information.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you for this very eye opening hub, continue the good works, this a very informative hub. creativeone59

    • The Good Cook profile image

      The Good Cook 

      9 years ago

      I had missed your article on How to Exercise for Maximum Fat Burning, so I read that as well. Now I feel really guilty that I missed going out for my walk today! It's been raining on and off and by the time I decided to risk it, it was getting too dark for safety. Tomorrow I shall have to walk for twice as long!

    • awsydney profile image


      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi Steve, time to hit the brakes on the drinks! Hard though coz I love my scotch on the rocks! Thanks for sharing! Tell me how I can improve my hubs please!

    • Robert Hartzell profile image

      Robert Hartzell 

      9 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Excellent article. By brother has some of the fatty liver blood levels and it really concerns me. He seems unconcerned and has not changed his lifestyle. I am so glad you wrote this article so people understand this is potentially serious.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      9 years ago from Hawaii

      My deceased husband died from liver cancer. He was obese and suffered from fatty liver. I was told by the family doctor that my in laws are likewise with this condition. But, they don't seem to care and go about with their lifestyle. This is so important to understand. This hub is very much appreciated.


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