Friday, May 23, 2014

Let’s Talk about… Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

What is it?

Fatty Liver occurs when fat is deposited in the liver. It is the most common form of chronic liver disease in developed countries. Why you ask?

Good question.

A popular theory is that fructose, a simple sugar or fruit sugar, is the cause. Proponents for fructose say that fructose isn’t the problem. It’s the OVER-CONSUMPTION of fructose that’s the problem. I find this funny because the food industry has it in EVERYTHING. Fructose was once only a small part of our diet, about 15 grams a day that came from fruits and vegetables. Today we average 4 to 5 times that amount. It’s in breakfast cereals, pastries, sodas, fruit drinks, and other sweet foods and beverages. And don’t even get me started on High-fructose corn syrup. That will be another post.

While the body can break down glucose for energy, fructose is primarily metabolized in the liver. It is converted to fat in a process called lipogenesis. This process deposits tiny fat droplets in the liver. This build up is called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, because it looks just like what happens in the livers of people who drink too much alcohol. 

If you thought your liver was safe because you aren’t a drinker, think again.

Virtually unknown before 1980, it now affects up to 30% of adults in the US and other developed countries. It is linked with insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and obesity.

If caught early, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible. However, once the liver becomes inflamed, low-grade damage known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (steato meaning fat and hepatits meaning inflammation) occurs. This can lead to cancer, cirrhosis and liver failure.

Other dangers include:
· Elevated triglycerides
· Increased harmful LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.
· Increased danger for the build-up of visceral fat (fat around the organs)
· Increased resistance to insulin
· Increased production of free radicals, energetic compounds that can damage DNA and cells.

How do I know if I have it?

There are rarely symptoms, although it may cause fatigue or pain in your upper right abdomen. If you are overweight, pre-diabetic, of a heavy consumer of all things sugary you might see your health care professional. Also, elevated liver enzymes are a big red flag.

How do I treat it?

Fatty Liver is usually addressed with dietary changes and exercise:
· Reduce or eliminate fructose from your diet.
· Exercise 150 minutes per week
· Lose weight – especially the visceral fat around the middle
· Avoid drinking alcohol
· Reduce exposure to environmental chemicals as much as possible
· Take only prescription or over-the-counter medicines when absolutely necessary

Of all the recommended items above, loosing visceral fat will be the hardest and most frustrating. As the article about Belly Fat illuminates, there are many reasons your body will want to hold on and protect that dangerous fat; Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and medications only being a few. Turning your lifestyle around is your best chance at negating this horrible complication!!

Patra Philips
Live Happy, Healthy, and Wealthy!

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