Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (fatty liver for short) and is caused by the 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour in our diet. In the United States, 70 to 90 million Americans have a fatty liver and almost none of them know they have it. In fact, you might have it, as well, and not even know it – this is dangerous because it is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart attacks, and even cancer.
What is a fatty liver?
Some of you may have heard of foie gras. Foie gras is the French term for fatty liver that is used to describe a delicacy made from duck or goose liver. What happens to the livers of these animals as a result of the controversial practice of overfeeding is what you could be doing to your own liver, unknowingly. For those people who have this disease, essentially what they have is a liver that is full of fat, and that is a major cause of chronic disease and inflammation in the body.
What causes it?
In order to make foie gras, ducks or geese are force-fed sugar in the form of corn and starch. In the body, this sugar turns on a fat-production factory in the liver, a process known as lipogenesis, which is the body’s normal response to sugar. Fructose actually ramps up the lipogenesis response (making high fructose corn syrup specifically potent!). The high fructose corn syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver, and carbonated sugary beverages are the number 1 culpret.
How do you know if you have it?
Blood tests can detect a fatty liver. You can also see it on an ultrasound. The bottom line is, if you eat a lot of sugar and flour, if you have a little bit of belly fat, or if you crave carbs, starch, and sugar, you probably have this to some degree.
Why is this a problem?
Fatty liver causes inflammation in your body. This inflammation creates insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which causes your body to deposit fat not just in your liver but also all around your organs and in your belly.
That dangerous belly fat caused by the sugar and starch in your diet then creates even more problems. It causes you to have high triglycerides and low HDL, the good cholesterol. It causes you to have small LDL, the dangerous cholesterol particles that cause heart attacks. It also puts you at great risk for having a heart attack. Certain populations like Latin Americans have a much higher risk of having a fatty liver.
We are now starting to see children as young as 12 who have lived on soda for years needing liver transplants from fatty liver - that’s scary! We really need to think about what we are doing to our children by feeding them these toxic foods.
How to fix your fatty liver
There are some really simple things you can do with diet, exercise, and supplements to help heal your fatty liver.