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Worst Drinking Habits for Fatty Liver Disease, Says Dietitian

A dietitian shares helpful tips for a healthier liver.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Fatty liver disease is far more common than you may realize. This disease, which is when someone has too much fat buildup in their liver, affects many Americans without them even having symptoms. Unfortunately, if fatty liver disease is left untreated, it may progress and contribute to liver damage.

It's important to note that there are multiple types of fatty liver disease, with the main two being nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcohol-induced fatty liver disease. Those with alcohol-induced fatty liver are usually heavy drinkers and according to the Cleveland Clinic about 5% of American adults have this. Nonalcoholic fatty liver is caused by other issues, oftentimes related to diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

Thankfully, fatty liver disease can oftentimes be prevented and even healed with the proper medications, diet, and other lifestyle shifts. To learn more, we talked with a registered dietitian on the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board, Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, about her recommendations for the worst drinking habits you'll want to avoid for fatty liver disease.

Read on, and for more healthy drinking tips check out The 6 Best Teas To Slow Aging.

How does diet affect fatty liver disease?

fatty liver

Your diet and your liver health are closely linked, especially when it comes to preventing fatty liver disease. Of course in the case of alcohol-induced fatty liver disease, limiting your consumption of alcohol can make a significant difference. With nonalcoholic fatty liver disease though, researchers are still discovering the exact causes.

What they do know is that for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, things like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol can all play a role in increasing your chances of getting it. Making dietary choices around preventing these health issues can help you prevent liver disease as well. To start, here are some drinking habits to avoid.

Drinking salty beverages, like broth

Chicken broth stock

You may not associate sodium with liver health, but this mineral is linked to the health status of this vital organ.

"Excessive amounts of salt should be avoided with fatty liver disease. While many of us think of excessive sodium as an ingredient that can cause negative effects on our heart health, a lesser-known fact is that it can negatively affect our liver health too by causing some serious damage to the organ," says Manaker.

If you are craving some broth or a hot soup, try choosing something low in sodium or making your own so that you can control the salt content.

4 Worst Drinks Slowing Your Metabolism

Drinking sugary soda


It's time to leave those cans and bottles of sweet soda on the shelf.

"Added sugars can increase the fat built up in the liver. And since sugary sodas contain a significant amount of added sugar, drinking this beverage frequently with fatty liver disease isn't a habit that people should get into," says Manaker.

In a six-year follow-up study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, it was found that a higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda, for example) was associated with more liver fat and an increased likeliness of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Drinking alcohol

drinking alcohol

"Alcohol and fatty liver disease don't mix," says Manaker. "Drinking alcohol can contribute to fats being built up in the liver." Not only can drinking alcohol in excess lead to potential liver damage, but drinking alcohol if you already have fatty liver disease can speed up the progression.

According to a study published in Translational Gastroenterology and Hepatology, participants who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had a greater chance of their nonalcoholic fatty liver disease progressing.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha