You may be able to reverse fatty liver disease by reducing your intake of certain foods, including those containing saturated and trans fat. Regular exercise and drinking alcohol in moderation may help.

Fatty liver disease occurs when an excess amount of fat is present in your liver. This can be due to several underlying conditions such as:

  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • excess alcohol intake

Lifestyle factors, including a high fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle, can increase your risk of fatty liver disease.

While the outlook for people with this condition depends on the underlying cause, a fatty liver won’t work as well as a non-fatty counterpart. If a doctor or healthcare professional has diagnosed you with fatty liver disease, they’ll likely recommend lifestyle changes whenever possible.

Here are three common treatments used to help clean a fatty liver.

Your liver is responsible for breaking down the components of alcohol. This allows your body to eliminate them as waste. If you have fatty liver disease, consuming too much alcohol can worsen your condition by placing greater demands on your liver.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking in moderation means having one drink or less a day for women or two drinks or less a day for men. One drink means:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8 oz. of malt liquor (alcohol 7% by volume)
  • 5 oz. of wine
  • 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits such as gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey

However, if you have alcohol use disorder or can’t control how much you drink, drinking any amount of alcohol can be harmful to you, mentally and physically.

Obesity is often an underlying cause of fatty liver disease. If you’re overweight or have obesity, experts recommend losing about 3% to 5% of your body weight. Losing this much weight can help you lower the amount of fat in your liver and the inflammation that fatty liver disease can cause.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Keep your fat intake to a daily recommended limit.
  • Avoid more harmful fat sources such as saturated or trans fats. Prefer unsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, avocados, or extra virgin olive oil.
  • Avoid excessive carbohydrate intake such as excess sugar.
  • Refrain from eating highly sweetened foods, including those that have simple sugars such as fructose. These include sugar-sweetened beverages and packaged sweets.

It’s important to lose weight gradually. Losing weight too quickly can cause your liver disease to worsen. Experts recommend about 1 to 2 pounds a week.

Experts recommend the Mediterranean diet to help reverse the effects of fatty liver disease.

Talk with a doctor about a safe rate of weight loss.

Physical activity by itself can help you lower the amount of inflammation in your liver. Engaging in both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help to reduce fatty liver disease.

A 2018 review found that moderate exercise with or without dietary changes led to a reduction of liver fat. The study authors defined moderate exercise as 20 to 60 minutes for 4 to 7 days each week, or more than 200 minutes a week.

In a 2013 study of 154 people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), exercise and diet interventions resulted in the remission of fatty liver disease in 64% of participants.

The following are some commonly asked questions about cleaning a fatty liver.

Are there any medications that help clean a fatty liver?

Researchers haven’t identified any medications that help clean a fatty liver. Some medications, such as vitamin E supplementation, may help lower inflammation. But these medications can have unwanted side effects that may outweigh the benefits. Based on current research, lifestyle changes are more helpful than medications.

Your liver is responsible for breaking down many medications. Taking too much medication (especially acetaminophen) can be toxic to your liver and worsen your condition. Review all medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, with a doctor to be sure you aren’t overworking your liver.

How long does it take to clean a fatty liver?

How long it takes to reverse fatty liver disease may depend on the cause. If your fatty liver is because of alcohol, you may be able to reverse the effects in about 2 weeks.

If you have NAFLD, it will depend on how quickly you lose weight. But remember, be careful not to lose weight too quickly. If you’re overweight, losing about 7% to 10% of your body weight safely may be enough to reduce the unwanted side effects of your fatty liver.

Doctors usually consider a fatty liver a “clinically silent disease.” This means it doesn’t usually cause a lot of symptoms. While you work to “clean” your liver, you may not know right away how your liver is changing.

What is the outlook for people with untreated fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease can lead to several unwanted side effects. If you don’t make lifestyle changes to reverse the presence of fat in your liver, your condition can progress to cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Fatty liver disease can also increase your risk of cardiovascular events and chronic kidney disease.

Taking steps to reduce the fat in your liver can help to improve your overall health and ideally work to prevent the progression to more severe liver disease.

Reversing fatty liver disease requires diet and lifestyle measures to help you lose fat and lower inflammation. Living a healthier lifestyle won’t only help reduce fat in your liver. It will also improve your overall health and can lower the incidence of other obesity-related conditions such as diabetes.

Talk with a doctor about your risks of fatty liver disease and how you can reverse them when possible.