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What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Coach Danielle why are we talking about this? I have never even heard of Fatty Liver Disease and why learn about it if I don't have it?

Well, you or someone you know, could be at risk! According to a 2016 meta analysis of over 700 studies, Fatty Liver disease affects roughly 25% of people globally! 1

So how does it happen?

Although a small amount of fat in the liver is normal, fatty liver disease occurs when the build up of fat reaches or surpasses 5% of it's total mass.

There are two main types of this disease. The first, less common, being alcohol related. It develops from consuming alcohol in excess causing fat build up in the liver. The second type is what we are here to talk about; Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

There are several factors that may contribute to the accumulation of fat in the liver or risk of NAFLD:

  • Obesity Level / Excess Belly Fat: Obesity creates a lot of low-grade inflammation that may promote liver fat storage. It’s estimated that 30–90% of obese adults have NAFLD, and it’s increasing in children due to the childhood obesity epidemic. 2 If a person who appears skinny has a lot of visceral fat, it can also contribute to the problem! 3

  • Insulin resistance: People with the condition of Type 2 Diabetes are at particular risk due to insulin resistance and high insulin levels have been shown to increase liver fat storage.

  • High intake of refined carbs: Regular or excessive intake of refined carbs promotes liver fat storage, especially when high amounts are consumed by overweight or insulin-resistant individuals.

  • Sugary beverage consumption: Sugar-packed drinks like pop, juice and energy drinks are high in processed fructose, which has been shown to drive liver fat accumulation in both children and adults.

  • Impaired gut health: Research suggests that having an imbalance in gut bacteria, (Also known as your gut flora or biome), problems with gut barrier function or other gut health issues may contribute to NAFLD development.

With all health conditions there is good news, and there is bad news!

The Bad News:

This is commonly missed or left undiagnosed which can lead to worsen conditions for the liver.

The Good News:

This is only the beginning phase of liver disease and is often times reversible with proper diet & exercise. Studies show by losing weight, avoiding overeating, and cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates it may help reduce the fat content in the liver. As well, exercise has been show to reduce fat in the liver. In a four-week study, 18 obese adults with NAFLD who exercised for 30–60 minutes five days per week experienced a 10% decrease in liver fat, even though their body weight remained the same. 4

To find out if you might be having this issue, talk to your doctor about getting blood work done! NAFLD can sneak up on a person, so it is better to be prepared.

For assistance with weight-loss & education on healthy balanced eating habits, or if you have any questions, CONTACT ME HERE!

Have a happy, healthy day!

Coach Danielle


1 - Younossi ZM, Koenig AB, Abdelatif D, Fazel Y, Henry L, Wymer M. Global epidemiology of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-Meta-analytic assessment of prevalence, incidence, and outcomes. Hepatology. 2016 Jul;64(1):73-84. doi: 10.1002/hep.28431. Epub 2016 Feb 22. PMID: 26707365.

2 - Ahmed, Monjur. “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in 2015.” World journal of hepatology vol. 7,11 (2015): 1450-9. doi:10.4254/wjh.v7.i11.1450

3 - Kim D, Kim WR. Nonobese Fatty Liver Disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Apr;15(4):474-485. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.08.028. Epub 2016 Aug 28. PMID: 27581063.

4 - Sullivan S, Kirk EP, Mittendorfer B, Patterson BW, Klein S. Randomized trial of exercise effect on intrahepatic triglyceride content and lipid kinetics in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Hepatology. 2012 Jun;55(6):1738-45. doi: 10.1002/hep.25548. Epub 2012 Apr 25. PMID: 22213436; PMCID: PMC3337888.

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