­Do you have fatty liver?

Nov 2, 2020

You’ve probably heard of the term fatty liver, but what does it actually mean? Is it something you should be worried about?

Fatty liver disease or hepatic steatosis, as it is medically called, is exactly what it sounds like- excess fat that surrounds the liver. One of the main reasons why someone would develop a fatty liver is due to alcohol abuse known as Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). If alcohol is not the cause, it is called Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

fatty liver

Am I at risk of developing fatty liver?

Anyone can develop fatty liver. Even children. There are a LOT of conditions you can have that increase your risk of having or developing fatty liver disease. The most common one is being overweight or obese. Moreover if you suffer from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea and/or high cholesterol you may have fatty liver too.

Women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or have an underactive thyroid are also more at risk of developing fatty liver disease.

Having any of these conditions doesn’t mean that you definitely have fatty liver disease, but it might be worthwhile talking to your local GP if you have any concerns.

Can fatty liver cause other health problems?

Yes, fatty liver disease can progress to Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) which is inflammation of the liver. It can damage your liver cells which in turn can cause liver scarring also known as liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis cannot be healed and can lead to liver failure and cancer of the liver. Fatty liver disease has also been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.


In its most extreme form, fatty liver can progress to liver failure or liver cancer. In fact, fatty liver remains the leading cause for liver failure in western nations, often resulting in the need for a liver transplant,

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How can I find out if I have fatty liver?

Fatty liver is mostly identified unintentionally through other procedures such as ultrasounds or blood tests as it has virtually no symptoms.

Here is a quick test you can take to find out if you are at risk of developing fatty liver. Take your shoes off and stand straight against a wall, then bend your head down without moving your shoulders off the wall. If you can’t see your toes, it means that you are carrying a lot of weight in your abdomen and although very preliminary, it gives an indication as to whether or not you have fatty liver disease. It is advisable then that you should see your GP or get an ultrasound done.

nutrition plan fruit-veg on table

How can I fix my fatty liver?

The best way you can fix your fatty liver is to overhaul your lifestyle and diet. Firstly, any weight loss in the abdominal region is always highly recommended for fixing a fatty liver. Secondly, eating the right types of food and cutting out the bad can benefit your overall health as well as your liver.

Cutting out sugar and replacing alcohol with green tea (high in antioxidants) can help to detox your liver. Eating foods with good Omega-3 fats like avocado, nuts and seeds such as almonds and flaxseeds, have also been shown to reduce the amount of fat around the liver.

Ginger is another food that can help with fatty liver disease and can improve digestion as well. It is recommended that you don’t take ginger on an empty stomach because it can cause irritation. A great way to add ginger to your diet is to soak thin slices in apple cider vinegar (which can also help the liver) and eat them with a meal.

It is recommended by the ANZMOSS to consider weight loss surgery if your waist circumference is more than 102cm for a male and 85cm for a female or, you have a BMI of 35 or more.

To find out more on whether you are a candidate for Weight Loss Surgery you may like to book a FREE 20min appointment with our Patient Advisor or call us on 9466 7799. We would be delighted to answer any of your queries.

Co-authored by Charlotte Davey and Dr Arun Dhir