Apple Cider Vinegar for Fatty Liver: Is It a Safe Detox Solution?

According to proponents, regularly flushing your system with apple cider vinegar can improve your digestion, boost your immune system, and aid in the detoxification work of your liver and kidneys. Some go so far as to say that, when consumed daily, apple cider vinegar can help prevent or reverse fatty liver disease. Let’s see what the science says.

If you’re looking for natural remedies to help detox your liver and support liver function, you may have come across the idea of using apple cider vinegar for fatty liver disease treatment and prevention. Is there any hard science behind this? Are there better natural supplemental treatments out there? Are there real health benefits to a liver flush diet? We have the answers.

What Is an Apple Cider Vinegar Detox?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is, naturally, vinegar made from apple cider. Those who use it as a detox supplement claim consuming apple cider vinegar daily (to help suppress appetite), or over the course of a dedicated detox regimen, helps them lose weight, regulates their blood sugar, and detoxes the body, including the liver. But does this home remedy actually help with health issues like insulin resistance or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Let’s find out.

What Is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can develop due to genetic predisposition, underlying conditions like leaky gut syndrome, and avoidable lifestyle causes such as poor diet and inactivity. Obesity, high cholesterol levels, and other metabolic disorders are risk factors for an increased likelihood of NAFLD, which involves triglyceride (fat) deposits building up in the liver, interrupting liver function, and sometimes causing irreversible scarring that could lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and death. Liver health is vital for a long and productive life, and some proponents wholeheartedly believe apple cider vinegar can help prevent or reverse fatty liver damage.

What is an Apple Cider Vinegar Detox?

Apple Cider Vinegar for Fatty Liver and More

According to proponents of the practice, regularly flushing your system with apple cider vinegar can improve your digestion, boost your immune system, and aid in the detoxification work of your liver and kidneys, but what does the science say?

1. Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

A Japanese study from 2009 tracked the triglyceride and cholesterol levels of animals consuming vinegar, and after 4 weeks found that their triglyceride levels had gone down.

Triglycerides are fats formed from glycerol (a sugar byproduct), which is why diets high in carbs and sugar often lead not only to type 2 diabetes but also to fatty liver deposits. While this study is on animal models and may not have the same effect on humans, if apple cider vinegar helps control appetite and reduce weight (especially belly fat), it could also help lower triglyceride levels in the body, keeping them from clogging up the liver. A healthy diet could do the same, especially one like the ketogenic diet, which targets visceral fat around the organs.

Another study from Iran in 2012 found that apple cider vinegar may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in those who have high cholesterol in the first place (hyperlipidemia). This is a human study, and though on a small sample of people (19 participants), it is a more trustworthy indication that ACV may work as claimed.

2. Weight Loss

The above-linked study from Japan also found ACV to be effective for body weight loss in animals, and a human study (though older, from 2007), may shed some light on how apple cider vinegar could be effective for weight loss in people.

Ten participants with type 1 diabetes were split into two groups: half of the patients were given food (a pudding cup) with a cup of water, while the other half were given the same, plus 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar added to the water. Results showed that the apple cider vinegar group had a slower rate of gastric emptying, meaning it took longer for their food to transfer from their stomachs to their small intestines. In this way, apple cider vinegar may reduce appetite, which in turn decreases daily calorie consumption, which then may lead to weight loss.

3. Blood Sugar Control

Eating foods high in carbs causes blood sugar to spike when that sudden influx of sugar hits the bloodstream. Regular high blood sugar spikes can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

A 2004 study showed that less than 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar given alongside a high-carb meal helped stabilize blood sugar (glucose) levels across three distinct groups: diabetic, pre-diabetic, and non-diabetic participants.

Another study from 2007 on people with type 2 diabetes found that apple cider vinegar taken alongside a bedtime snack also helped lower blood sugar levels the next morning. The scientists conducting the test suggested this was due to the effect of acetic acid in ACV, which slows down the rate at which carbs are processed into sugar.

How to Do an Apple Cider Vinegar Detox: Dosages and Possible Side Effects

If apple cider vinegar helps you lose weight and lower blood lipid levels, it may be worth a try when it comes to reversing a fatty liver diagnosis. The studies above use small amounts of ACV over limited periods of time, so it’s important to ask your doctor or another trusted health care professional for specific advice regarding how long you should take ACV. That being said, here are some general guidelines and precautionary measures if you want to try out an ACV detox yourself.

Apple Cider Detox Ingredients

Combine together the following, and consume it once a day alongside a meal for optimal benefits.

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (start with the smaller amount at first to avoid stomach upset)
  • 8 ounces of warm water
  • (Optional) 1-2 tablespoons of a sweetener or flavoring like maple syrup, lemon juice, honey, stevia, apple juice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or ginger

You don’t necessarily have to drink apple cider vinegar to get the benefits. You can dress or sauté your food with it (as a salad dressing or meat or vegetable marinade), stir it into stews or soups, blend it into a healthy smoothie, or even spritz it on some popcorn.

You can add ACV to your diet indefinitely or only during dedicated detox times, but again, ask a health care professional for specific advice regarding your health, especially if you are on any prescribed medications.

Possible Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects

Cautions and Side Effects

Specific medications related to insulin or functioning as a diuretic may be interrupted by apple cider vinegar consumption.

If you’re drinking apple cider vinegar, use a straw to help it bypass your tooth enamel, as vinegar may erode the enamel faster. That is why it’s advised you mix it into a glass of water, and why it’s better to take ACV with food: taking it with a meal not only gives it an opportunity to protect your blood sugar from spiking, but the food also protects your teeth and your digestive tract from the acidic effect of vinegar.

Should you experience any discomfort or concerning side effects, cease consuming apple cider vinegar immediately and seek medical advice.

Other Natural Remedies for Fatty Liver

If apple cider vinegar works to improve your individual health, fantastic, but if it doesn’t work or if the side effects are too problematic or dangerous, there are other proven natural supplements that can aid liver detox.

  • Lemon: Easy enough to include in an ACV detox drink, lemons are full of the antioxidant vitamin C, which helps produce the liver enzyme glutathione, important for liver detox. The flavonoid eriocitrin found in lemon has also been proven to lower triglycerides and total cholesterol and repair fatty liver disease damage.
  • Milk thistle: Milk thistle contains silymarin, an antifibrotic that helps prevent liver scarring. It has been used to help treat viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and liver damage from poisonings. Milk thistle even helps promote liver regeneration according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
  • Amino acids: The essential amino acids are necessary not only for building new muscle, but for a thousand other important functions in the body, including liver health. They create the enzymes the liver needs to function, help reduce liver fat, and provide the building blocks for liver regeneration and repair.
  • Green tea: Full of flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, green tea also has proven anti-diabetic effects. According to the Journal of Molecular Medicine, the catechins in green tea improve liver function specifically in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and improve their liver enzyme levels.
  • Turmeric: This vibrant spice contains curcumin, a phytochemical that can help ameliorate conditions like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer. Curcumin has also specifically helped reduce the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Along with a fatty liver diet that helps support your vital organs and keeps toxins and unhealthy fats out of your system, these natural supplements can give you an extra boost, all without the side effects associated with apple cider vinegar like tooth decay or stomach damage.

Long Live the Liver

Nothing can replace healthy living when it comes to maintaining a healthy liver, but for extra support for your cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin levels, natural supplements like apple cider vinegar and amino acids could help you recover liver function faster and stay stronger longer.

Is Keto Good for Fatty Liver? How the Right Diet Can Help Reverse Liver Disease

Is the ketogenic diet effective at preventing or even reversing fatty liver disease? Find out how a high-fat, low-carb diet can possibly restore your liver’s health, and which foods are scientifically proven to help.

The ketogenic diet was originally developed as a medicinal aid for children with epilepsy, and though it’s widely used these days as a weight-loss strategy, it still has practical applications in health care settings. What about in regards to the liver: is keto good for fatty liver? Can it prevent or even reverse fatty liver disease? We have the scientifically backed answers below.

The Keto Diet

First formulated to help treat epilepsy in children without the use of medications, the ketogenic diet restricts carb and sugar intake to 5% of your calories per day, with 75% of calories consumed devoted to healthy fats and the other 20% reserved for protein. Maintaining these macronutrient ratios triggers a secondary metabolism known as ketosis, which uses the ketones derived from dietary and body fat as fuel, rather than using the easy energy of sugar (glucose) from carbs.

Maintaining a steady state of ketosis can lead to rapid yet safe weight loss, and even has the added benefit of boosting mental performance, as ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide an alternative source of energy for the brain.

The Liver and the Impact of Fatty Liver Disease

Your liver is a large organ located within the right side of your ribcage. It’s also one of the hardest-working and most resilient organs you have.

Responsible for (among other things) amino acid processing, fatty acid breakdown, and glucose and fructose digestion, the liver also stores important nutrients for quick dispatch throughout the body and detoxifies your blood of any chemicals, poisons, alcohols, or medicines you ingest. Fatty liver and fatty liver disease interrupt these vital functions.

When more than 5% of your liver cells are composed of triglycerides (fats), you have hepatic steatosis, otherwise known as fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease can be caused by heavy alcohol use, known as alcoholic fatty liver disease, or by other lifestyle factors such as poor diet and exercise, which instigate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If caught soon enough, each of these conditions can be improved by lifestyle changes, including diet. So, is the keto diet an appropriate way to help heal your liver?

Is Keto Good for Fatty Liver Treatment?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progresses from hepatic steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), sometimes without showing symptoms enough to make you seek medical advice and get a diagnostic liver biopsy. The danger is that by the time the damage to your liver function is palpable, you may be too close to cirrhosis or end-stage liver failure to recover. Though this organ can heal in ways our hearts and brains cannot, chronic inflammation exacerbated by oxidative stress can lead to permanent scarring and irreversible liver damage.

A fatty liver diet help, but shouldn’t it be a low-fat diet instead of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet such as the keto diet? Not necessarily.

While it’s true that excess fat buildup in the liver is the exact cause of fatty liver disease, the keto diet actually stimulates a fat-burning state of ketosis that can help remedy the condition without the need for medication. The keto diet also helps prevent other metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Here’s some proof from clinical trials.

1. Risk Factor Management

Some of the top causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, outside of having a genetic predisposition or an underlying cause like gut dysbiosis (aka “leaky gut syndrome”), are perfectly matched by a keto diet. Those include:

  • High carb and sugar intake: The non-nutritive calories found in refined sugar and highly processed carbohydrate foods can lead to NAFLD. The severe carbohydrate restriction demanded by keto directly improves both of these risk factors.
  • Visceral fat: This is fat that has collected around your viscera, or your vital organs, including the liver. Excess fat stored deep in the body not only crowds in on the normal function of your organs, but it also causes low-grade inflammation and is the kind of fat that is hardest to lose via exercise and normal diet. The fat-burning effects of keto will seek it out, leaving no stone unturned to find the fat needed to fuel your body when sugar is unavailable.
  • Insulin resistance: Fatty liver disease is associated with insulin resistance, which is why the two conditions are present simultaneously in as many as 80% of type 2 diabetes patients. Because the ketogenic diet restricts sugar intake, it helps increase insulin sensitivity in at-risk populations.

2. High-Quality Calories

The type of food we eat is just as important as the amount of food we eat. When it comes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, foods full of corn syrup, refined sugar, or processed carbs negatively impact our blood sugar levels and contribute directly to weight gain and ultimately fatty liver deposits.

One recent study on the effects of short-term carbohydrate overfeeding on long-term weight loss and liver fat in overweight adults found that over 3 weeks the addition of juice, candy, and sweetened beverages on top of a normal diet caused a 27% increase in liver fat, even while body fat went up only 2%.

When we consume excess carbs, the liver converts them into triglycerides in a process called “de novo lipogenesis,” which translates literally to “making new fat.” All that fat created and stored can eventually lead to NAFLD and other metabolic complications. By switching to the low-carb, low-sugar keto diet, you avoid one of the core risk factors for fatty liver disease.

3. Dietary Fat

It may seem counterintuitive that consuming a high-fat diet would lead to less fat in the liver, but studies show that not only does restricting sugar intake help improve metabolic health, but increasing healthy fats and protein helps achieve better weight loss than restricting overall calories.

This 2011 study comparing a low-calorie diet with a low-carb, non-calorie restricted diet found that the low-carb group had a 55% liver fat reduction vs. a 26% reduction in the low-fat group after only 2 weeks.

It isn’t the dietary fat itself that’s the problem. It’s how that fat is used and stored in the body. On a low-carb diet like keto, the body is trained to burn all the fat it can find for energy. That means less fat stored and more fat accessed from the places it’s been previously stored, which includes a reduction of liver fat.

Another study found that 14 adults with metabolic syndrome eating a Mediterranean keto diet of fatty fish, olive oil, eggs, meat, and cheese experienced significant liver fat reduction, with 3 adults completely reversing NAFLD. All 14 no longer met the standards of metabolic syndrome after 12 weeks. For some, keto may truly be the cure for fatty liver disease, meaning the liver damage is stopped, reversed, and never progresses to life-threatening conditions like liver cancer.

Is Keto Good for Fatty Liver Treatment?

Keto Foods for Fatty Liver Disease

Along with focusing on a liver flush diet, you can start filling up your fridge and pantry with these keto-approved foods that are particularly beneficial to those with or worried about NAFLD.

  • Polyphenol foods: Polyphenols are phytochemicals, the antioxidants found in plants. Those plant foods particularly high in polyphenols include tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, wine (in moderation), dark berries, green veggies, cocoa, coffee, and spices like cinnamon and turmeric.
  • Green tea: Speaking of polyphenols, green tea is full of catechins, a type of polyphenol that helps contribute to overall longevity, as in literally the more green tea you consume, the less likely you are to die prematurely.
  • Fatty fish: Fatty fish like anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have robust anti-inflammatory abilities and are often deficient in modern diets. We should have a nearly 1:1 ratio of omega-3s vs. omega-6s, but in the Western world we get so few omega-3s from fish, nuts, or seeds and so many omega-6s from refined vegetable oils, that ratio can be as skewed to 1:20 or 1:50.
  • Monounsaturated fatty foods: Foods like almonds, avocado, olives, olive oil, macadamia nuts, and peanuts contain monounsaturated fats that research shows have a protective effect on your liver health.
  • Whey protein: Derived from milk, whey protein helps increase levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect your liver cells from free radical damage. One study even shows that 20 grams of whey protein each day for NASH patients helped increase their glutathione levels and reduce their markers for oxidative stress and their liver fat levels.

Food for Your Liver

Fatty liver disease comes with insulin resistance and other markers of metabolic syndrome, and can lead to cirrhosis, NASH, and possibly liver cancer and death. Though the ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet, it works to train the body to burn and utilize fat rather than store it dangerously in vital organs like your liver. A low-carb keto diet and an active lifestyle can help halt liver disease, reverse it, and restore your liver health before it’s too late.