man holding side of abdomen near liver. Fatty liver disease concept
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
July 14, 2023 ·  4 min read

Fatty Liver: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Home Remedies

Fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a condition in which excess fat accumulates in the liver. It is a common health problem that various factors, such as obesity, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and metabolic disorders, can cause. Knowing the causes, symptoms, types, and lifestyle-based approaches is the best way of preventing and managing fatty liver.

Fatty Liver: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Prevention, and Lifestyle-Based Management

Fatty liver is caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver. It is a condition that can occur for many reasons, such as obesity, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and metabolic disorders. There can also be a hereditary component to your risk of developing this condition. Fatty liver disease is common in people with diabetes or those who drink alcohol excessively. Understanding the causes is the first step to preventing fatty liver disease from occurring altogether.

Causes of Fatty Liver

As already mentioned, there are a number of contributing factors to fatty liver disease. Most of these are lifestyle choices and are, therefore, reasonably preventable. This means that those with a family history of the condition can change their odds if they do the right things. The most common causes of fatty liver are (1):

  1. Unhealthy Diet: Consuming a diet rich in processed foods, sugary drinks, and saturated fats can increase the risk of developing fatty liver.
  2. Obesity: Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing fatty liver, as it increases fat accumulation in the liver.
  3. Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance, commonly associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, can contribute to the development of fatty liver.
  4. Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption can cause alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is because excess alcohol slows the liver’s ability to process fats and can lead to fatty deposits and inflammation inside the organ.

Other types of fatty liver can be caused by other factors. For example, some women develop one type of fatty liver while pregnant. This is called acute fatty liver of pregnancy. In most cases, the liver returns to normal after the mother gives birth. (2)

Symptoms of Fatty Liver

Asymptomatic fatty liver is often discovered during a routine health check-up. In fact, most people don’t actually have any symptoms, so it can be quite advanced once it is finally detected. However, some common symptoms of fatty liver disease include (3):

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Types of Fatty Liver

There are two main types of fatty liver disease:

  1. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD): AFLD is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, and it is the most common type of fatty liver disease.
  2. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): NAFLD is more common than AFLD and is associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Prevention and Lifestyle-Based Management of Fatty Liver


A healthy diet is one of the most critical factors in preventing and managing fatty liver. Here are some dietary recommendations:

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Avoid or limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and saturated fats.
  • Choose healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and fish.


Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing fatty liver and improve liver function in people with fatty liver disease. Here are some exercise recommendations:

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, running, dancing, or swimming.
  • Include both cardio and strength training exercises in your routine.

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical in preventing and managing fatty liver disease. Here are some weight management recommendations:

  • Aim for a healthy weight based on your body mass index (BMI).
  • Gradual weight loss is recommended if overweight or obese.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption is recommended for people with fatty liver disease, especially for those with AFLD.

Manage Medical Conditions

Managing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can help prevent further liver damage.

Supplements and Home Remedies

Although a healthy diet is the best way to get the nutrients you need, some supplements and home remedies may have potential benefits for fatty liver disease. Here are some recommendations:

  • Milk thistle is an herbal supplement that may improve liver function. (4)
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help improve liver health. (5)
  • Vitamin E are one of the most promising fatty liver-aiding supplements. (6)
  • Drinking green tea may have potential benefits for fatty liver disease. (7)

It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplements or home remedies.

The Bottom Line

Fatty liver disease is a common health problem that can be prevented and managed through lifestyle changes. By adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption, and managing underlying medical conditions, individuals can significantly reduce the risk and progression of fatty liver disease. In addition, considering certain supplements and home remedies may have potential benefits. A holistic approach to preventing and managing fatty liver disease is recommended and can improve both liver and overall body health.

Keep Reading: 5 Early Signs of Liver Damage You Should Look Out For


  1. What to Know About Fatty Liver Disease.” Healthline. The Healthline Editorial Team and Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. February 8, 2023.
  2. Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy.” Chop
  3. Fatty Liver Disease.” Liver
  4. Milk thistle.” Mount Sinai
  5. Pharmacotherapy for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Emerging Targets and Drug Candidates.” Pubmed. Veronika A Prikhodko, et al. January 2022.
  6. Systematic review with meta-analysis: The effect of vitamin E supplementation in adult patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Pubmed. Andreas Vadarlis, et al. February 2021.
  7. Is green tea and exercise the key to reducing fatty liver disease?.” Health Europa. February 2020.