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Can You Still Drink Alcohol with a Fatty Liver?

After being diagnosed with NAFLD aka non-alcoholic fatty liver (or simply Fatty Liver), you might believe that since it’s not alcohol that caused your liver problems, you could still consume it moderately or socially. In the end, what damage can a glass of wine, after dinner, cause?

In today’s article, we’re going to talk exactly about that: can you still drink alcohol if you have a fatty liver?

Since we’re talking about a liver that is already suffering, alcohol will do a lot of harm and put unneeded pressure on it. This means that you should not drink ANY alcohol if you have NAFLD.

I know that this is not the answer that some of you were hoping to read – especially since some doctors say that you can have a drink or two every now and then. But we’re going to find out more about this in today’s article so that you can make an educated decision regarding that next glass of wine or beer.

You will see that I will go as far as saying that, once you get diagnosed, you will have to completely stop having any alcohol, even after reversing your condition.

Why is alcohol bad for a fatty liver?

According to Drinkaware (among many, many others), there are two main reasons:

1. Additional liver stress: when the liver breaks down the alcohol, the chemical reaction damages its cells, leading to inflammation and scarring.

2. Alcohol also damages our intestine, allowing bacteria from our gut to enter the liver. The bacteria, which isn’t supposed to be there, will cause even more damage to one’s liver.

In other words, alcohol is indeed really unhealthy, even for those who don’t have non-alcoholic fatty liver.

But a healthy liver can handle a bit of pressure as long as you drink moderately and just every now and then. However, a person suffering from fatty liver doesn’t need the extra stress and damage.

In this case, alcohol will at best delay the healing of our liver, but it might actually do a lot more damage, because the liver is already in a poor shape and unable to properly handle the bad effects alcohol consumption has on it.

This means that no alcohol is permitted if you have a fatty level, and even if your diagnosis is “non alcoholic fatty liver”.

This includes beer, wine and any other type of beverage that has even small percentages of alcohol included – as well as those strong drink, for sure.

I went a bit more in depth with two of the main drinks that people usually consume, so if you want the nitty-gritty about them, make sure to do some further reading: why you shouldn’t drink beer, and why you shouldn’t drink wine if you have been diagnosed with a fatty liver.

Not even a single sip? Is that even possible?

I have to tell you that, even though I wasn’t really a big drinker before being diagnosed, I was shocked when I found out that I would not be allowed to drink any alcohol, ever, if I wanted to reverse it.

I was actually 100% certain that I will not be able to have any fun when going out, that my social life will have to suffer a lot and that I will feel mostly miserable knowing that I can never ever have a drink.

Well, guess what? None of my worries proved to be correct. I stopped drinking alcohol as soon as I learned that I shouldn’t have it anymore and I haven’t touched it since.

Remember: I’ve been diagnosed in late 2014 and I have reversed it since. So it’s definitely doable – I’m not the only one who managed to!

And the biggest surprise for me was that it wasn’t that difficult to achieve, although I had some tough moments along the way. The best part is that the longer you do it, the easier it is for you to stop wanting to take a sip.

Some of my friends had trouble understanding that I will never EVER drink alcohol because of my fatty liver (even after reversing it) and they still try to convince me to drink “at least one beer” as it “won’t do any harm”.

It was difficult for me to accept what I’m about to say, but it is true: those are not real friends. Real friends are supportive and help you get past the most difficult moments in your life, not make it more difficult.

And since alcohol is known to be bad for one’s health – and even for a healthy person – there’s no reason for real friends to encourage you to drink! So for the sake of your well being, stay away from such people if they exist in your life!

But despite all these, things weren’t that bad. It’s easy to say no and stop drinking. It’s the only option that you have, actually, if you want to reverse NAFLD and get your life back!

No alcohol with fatty liver
Sparkling water is my go-to drink when I go out.

And you will still have fun when going out, you will still have a social life and you won’t feel miserable at all.

Quite the contrary: I was extremely surprised to find out how good it feels to spend an entire night out with friends and wake up the next morning with no headaches, no hangover and be able to stick to my healthy, fatty liver friendly diet.

I always got hungry after or during a night out and ended up drinking very unhealthy, greasy, bad-for-you food as a results. You will see for yourself that it’s actually a lot easier than you think to stop drinking alcohol and your life will not be affected at all!

You really can’t drink with moderation if you have fatty liver?

As we have already discussed – NO.

I know there are people, including doctors, who say that a glass of wine here and there won’t be the end of the world. But others say that it is.

We end up lying to ourselves that we do it for the health benefits (since drinking a glass of wine, for example, has been associated with improved health).

Well, guess what? Even if it’s a risk vs. reward kind of thing, the risk is too big in this case.

I always quote what my doctor told me in regards to drinking, even with moderation, if you have a fatty liver:

“Let’s say you have that glass of wine every now and then. Let’s say that the people who claim it’s not that bad are correct. Let’s say nothing will happen. All is good. But what if they’re wrong? What if that glass of wine you have now and then turns your fatty liver into something incurable that will eventually become your cause of death – 10, 20 years from now? Are you willing to take the chance?”

Only you can answer that question. I answered mine and never touched alcohol since!

Are alcohol free drinks allowed with fatty liver?

alcohol free beer fatty liver

We have things like alcohol free beer as well as alcohol free wine… and the opinions are divided here regarding their safety when you have NAFLD.

I personally never drank any beer or wine (even with 0% alcohol) until it was confirmed, 1.5 years after being diagnosed, that I have reversed my fatty liver.

Afterwards, I decided that I could treat myself with a non-alcoholic beer every now and then (usually during the hot days of summer or when I go out with friends).

It hasn’t done any apparent harm to me, but I also try to drink no more than a maximum of 3 non alcoholic beers in any given week and I only have them on very rare occasions – so definitely not on a weekly basis!

I have also moved to alcohol free wine, and I wrote more in depth about it here. I only drink that on VERY rare occasions (maybe one or twice a year) and I only drank it AFTER reversing my fatty liver.

The reason why I drink alcohol free wine is that it is still processed and the chemicals used could do harm to my liver.

All in all, I would recommend anyone who is still trying to reverse their condition to stay away even from non-alcoholic beers or wines. These still have tons of carbs and lots of calories, so eat and drink as clean as possible until you reverse it.

After you reverse it, don’t start drinking alcohol again! Instead, if you really-really feel the need to, try some of the non-alcoholic options, but make sure that there is 0% alcohol (some drinks still have something like 0.5%) and only have them on very rare occasions.

That’s how I did it and it seems to have worked fine. It’s your choice here, but at least you know what it worked for me. You’ll see that never drinking again is not really the nightmare that it seems to be when you first hear it!

Lynn

After being diagnosed with a fatty liver back in 2014, I started doing serious research about it and I didn't stop until I reversed mine in just 1.5 years. I decided to share all my expertise and findings in these blog - all based on my personal experiences and tons of research. I also run a highly successful Fatty Liver-related Facebook Group (see the sidebar!) and moderate the Fatty Liver reddit.

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4 Comments

  1. My lips gets so dry after consuming alcohol
    My friends told me that I’m having a fatty liver. But I only drink once in 3-4 months. And I’m having overweight.

  2. I have a fatty liver, so have to give up drinking, so to help me through this stage Im drinking 00 wine, is this OK? ,as it helps me get through, as I’m just at the beginning of my journey, and want to stay safe and away from it all together, and eat more healthy

    1. Sue, not really sure if 00 wine is no-alcohol wine or something else. If it is the former, it can be considered safer to drink than one with alcohol, but just as a transition phase. You will have to give it up completely and only have it occasionally (non-alcholic one I mean, as the one with alcohol should be always avoided).

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