Reversing fatty liver disease with healthy lifestyle

  • Prof. Dr Massimiliano Ruscica1
  • Dr. Paola Dongiovanni2
  • Dr. Leen Heyens3-5
  • Prof. Dr. Geert Robaeys3,5,6

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is defined as the accumulation of fat in the liver and nowadays represents the most common chronic liver disease worldwide. NAFLD is closely associated with obesity, with a prevalence as high as 90% in morbidly obese persons, it is the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD is expected to become the leading cause of end-stage liver disease worldwide over the next few decades. NAFLD is on the rise and can lead to the need for liver transplantation. The burden of disease related to NAFLD is extremely high in the general population, and the global prevalence of liver steatosis is around 25%, including in Europe, but is as high as 46% in the United States. Furthermore, the incidence has gradually increased in the past few decades.

The pathogenesis of fatty liver disease is affected by environmental factors such as excessive calories, typical Western diet and sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, NAFLD is reversible.

To date, the primary therapeutic advice for NAFLD is a lifestyle intervention focused on diet, physical activity, and behaviour modification to attain a 7-10% weight reduction, that may lead to a significant improvement in liver fibrosis and reduce steatosis.

To achieve this weight loss, a plant-based diet, typically high in fibre, with lower caloric density, lower saturated fat, beneficial fatty acid composition (higher in unsaturated fats) and with anti-inflammatory compounds, is recommended.

A group of four clinicians summarized the literature explaining the role of lifestyle in the development of fatty liver disease. Emphasizing the potential role of more plant-based eating.

Watch interview here.

Read all about it in this expert opinion.



Affiliations of the experts:

1 Università degli studi di Milano, Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Milan, Italy
2 General Medicine and Metabolic Diseases, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy
3 Hasselt University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Diepenbeek, Belgium
4 Maastricht University, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, NUTRIM, Maastricht, the Netherlands
5 Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg, Department of Gastro-enterology and Hepatology, Genk, Belgium
6 University Hospital KU Leuven, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Leuven, Belgium
- Alpro Foundation

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