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Time to Go on a Fatty-Liver Diet?

Time to Go on a Fatty-Liver Diet?

If your belly has gotten a little pudgy, you can camouflage it with a roomy T-shirt until daily walking and healthy eating cut the belly fat, but there's no fashion fix for another body part that can gain dangerous weight: your liver.

In the last 20 years, your chances of developing a fatty liver have doubled. They're now at least 1 in 9, and maybe as high as 1 in 3.

Fatty liver is no joke. It ups your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and serious liver damage, not to mention dementia, impotence, and cancer. How did the liver get so endangered? Although overdoing alcohol consumption is the classic cause of liver problems, the fallout wasn't from the martini and microbrew-beer crazes.

Instead, blame the usual suspects for causing liver damage: eating too much and exercising too little. Both increase weight and waist size. Also, belly fat increases your risk for a fatty liver as much as 90 percent.

The only definitive way to find out if you have a fatty liver is to surgically test a sample. Forget that! Take the simpler, smarter route: Lose weight if you need to. Slowly losing just 10 percent of your weight is all it takes to greatly improve your liver's health.

Do it the smart way: Increase your fiber intake (more fruits, vegetables, and 100 percent whole grains), and replace foods high in saturated fat (e.g., meat, full-fat cheese) with lean protein, such as fish, skinless poultry breasts, eggs, beans, and low-fat/no-fat dairy. Add some extra omega-3 fat from nuts (especially walnuts), canola oil, olive oil, and a DHA omega-3 supplement (900 milligrams a day). Done.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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