Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a more severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is a condition characterized by fat deposits, inflammation and damage in the liver. People with this condition are advised to lose any excess weight and exercise more to help limit the progression of their disease. Diet may play a role both in the development and the treatment of NASH, which affects up to 5 percent of the U.S. population, so it is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet.
Dr. Manal F. Abdelmalek at Duke University recommends a diet low in refined sugars, especially fructose. A study published in "Hepatology" in June 2010 found that people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who consumed fructose each day had more advanced cases of the disease than those who consumed fructose less often. Limiting the amount of fructose you consume may help keep the fatty liver disease from turning into NASH and slow the progression of NASH. Fructose is found in sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and fruit juices and many processed foods.
Dietary cholesterol, found in animal products, such as dairy, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, may also play a role in the development of NASH. Dietary cholesterol may increase the inflammation associated with NASH, according to an animal study published in "Hepatology" in August 2008. It may also increase blood cholesterol levels, which tend to be high already in people suffering from this liver condition.
Limit Fat and Alcohol
Diets high in fat may trigger NASH in some individuals, according to an article published in "Nutrition" in 2008. This type of diet also makes your more likely to become obese, which is another risk factor for NASH. People with NASH shouldn't drink alcoholic beverages because this puts more stress on the liver.
Other Dietary Considerations
Oxidative stress may play a role in the development of NASH, so increasing antioxidant consumption may be beneficial, although research is preliminary, according to a 2011 study published in the "European Journal of Medical Research." People with NASH also tend to have low blood levels of antioxidants. Potentially beneficial antioxidants include betaine, vitamin E and selenium. Although supplements contain higher amounts of antioxidants than food, eating antioxidant-rich food can also help you increase your intake. Spinach, almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds are all good sources of vitamin E, and you can get selenium by eating shrimp, tuna, Brazil nuts, turkey, beef, eggs or spinach. Betaine comes from beets, spinach, broccoli, shellfish and grains.
- Hepatology: Dietary Cholesterol, Rather Than Liver Steatosis, Leads to Hepatic Inflammation in Hyperlipidemic Mouse Models of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
- DukeHealth.org: Clinician Q&A: Fighting Fatty Liver Disease
- Hepatology: Increased Fructose Consumption Is Associated With Fibrosis Severity in Patients With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Nutrition: High-fat diet: A Trigger of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis? Preliminary Findings in Obese Subjects
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Selenium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Betaine
- European Journal of Medical Research: Plasma Levels of Vitamin E and Carotenoids Are Decreased in Patients With Nonalcoholi Steatohepatitis (NASH)