The best ways to treat fatty liver disease

Written by: Professor Michael A G Heneghan
Published: | Updated: 26/04/2023
Edited by: Robert Smith

Fatty liver disease can affect your quality of life and can leave people feeling very unwell if appropriate lifestyle changes are not made.

woman eating salad


Leading consultant hepatologist, Professor Michael A G Heneghan , spoke with us about this condition. He let us know what the main types of fatty liver disease are and how it can be treated by changing your daily habits.


What is fatty liver disease and what are the main types?

There are three types of fatty liver disease. Fat related to alcohol, fat related to food and lifestyle and finally fatty liver disease related to some medication.


Fatty liver is predominantly caused as a consequence of increased refined carbohydrate intake. Sugars are widespread in our diet and tend to be the main source of calories in both alcohol, fast food and many of the foods that are widespread in the Western diet.


What are the most effective ways of treating fatty liver disease?

The most important thing in patients with fatty liver disease is to modify alcohol intake and get adequate exercise where possible.

The simple prescription is to reduce the intake of refined sugars in the form of items beginning with P, B and R. This includes pizza, pastries, potatoes, pasta, biscuits, baked goods, burgers, bread, rice and roti. These are a rough guide. Avoidance of sugary drinks is critical, particularly fizzy drinks. Using exercise regularly will augment the effect of dietary intervention.

Reducing alcohol units to below the weekly allowance for both men and women is very important. Remember that a bottle of wine can have as many as 10 to 15 units of alcohol present depending on the strength. One measure of spirits is the same as one unit of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have 'empty calories' and often high amounts of sugar that are converted to fat within the liver.


In patients who are overweight, managing risk factors such as blood pressure, diabetes, lipids, and cholesterol are critical.


A balanced diet is important and specifically, increasing protein, reducing refined carbohydrates as outlined above, reducing alcohol but more importantly calorie counting. Recommended calorie intake per day for both men and women does not take into consideration sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, in trying to lose weight, reduce calories to between 1400 and 1600 kcal per day.


The liver can repair itself within six months to a year. This repair can be seen through measurement of liver stiffness and liver fat. This is typically measured using Fibroscan. This is a device that allows key information to be obtained regarding liver health.


For more guidance on treating fatty liver disease, we recommend booking an appointment with Professor Michael A G Heneghan. Visit his Top Doctors profile today for information on appointment availability.

By Professor Michael A G Heneghan
Hepatology (liver specialist)

Professor Michael Heneghan is a leading consultant hepatologist, based in London. He has a specialist interest in autoimmune liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver transplantation, and new therapies for end-stage liver disease. Professor Heneghan is currently practising at his three private clinics. 

After receiving his qualification in medicine from University College Dumblin, Professor Heneghan furthered his speciality education and completed his training in gastroenterology and hepatology in Ireland, London, and America. He subsequently held the position of medical director of liver transplantation at Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina, before holding prestigious positions at top liver clinics, the London Liver Centre at London Bridge Hospital, and the Guthrie Clinic at King's College London.

Alongside his clinical work, Professor Heneghan has published numerous studies, medical articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has been involved in numerous research projects, as well as devoting time to lecturing developing future doctors. He maintains professional memberships in multiple associations and societies, but is most notably a medical advisor to the Preliminary Biliary Cirrhosis Foundation.

Professor Heneghan continues to enrich himself and the hepatology field by doing research. His interests include liver autoimmunity and innovative therapies in end-stage liver disease.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Gastroscopy
    Fatty liver
    Liver surgery
    Abdominal pain
    Liver biopsy
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.