Avoid These 5 Foods If You Want to Prevent Fatty Liver Disease
The Global Liver Institute (GLI) is declaring war on NASH (liver disease), calling it a hidden epidemic in a recent press release. NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) affects an estimated 115 million people globally. Tragically, NASH will become the number one cause for liver transplants next year. In this article, we are going to explore important facts about fatty liver disease and the top 5 foods that you should avoid to prevent it.
What is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?
What is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis you ask? NASH is a hazardous and potentially fatal condition that affects 12% of the total population worldwide. According to a recent survey, only 6% of at-risk individuals are even aware of the condition. The Global Liver Institute hopes that declaring June 12th International NASH Day will help to raise public awareness about this disease and provide better diagnosis and treatment options in the future.
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Perhaps you’ve heard of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Well, NASH is the progressive form of NAFLD with 20% of patients diagnosed with NAFLD patients developing NASH in the future.
NASH is a condition where globules of fat accumulate in liver cells, causing cell death and developing inflammation. Years of chronic inflammation lead to scarring of the tissue, creating liver fibrosis. A severe case of liver fibrosis becomes cirrhosis which can spiral into liver failure and liver cancer. NAFLD and NASH are major risk factors that could lead to a variety of other health conditions and complications including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.
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Unfortunately, NASH is not widely known and under-diagnosed, thus representing a growing public health issue worldwide in most countries including the United States. The Global Liver Institute estimates that approximately 30 million Americans have NASH, and this prevalence is expected to rise to a shocking 63% by 2030 in association with increased obesity and type 2 diabetes.
"We feel an urgent need to raise awareness for and educate on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis so that these liver diseases are included in every healthcare conversation when obesity and diabetes are mentioned," stated Donna R. Cryer, JD, President and CEO, Global Liver Institute. "We are spearheading a global effort for adoption of non-invasive tests so that early detection and diagnosis of these diseases is easier and we can begin to stem the tide of this global epidemic.
Inflammation and the Liver
The liver is the biggest organ in our body, weighing about three pounds and approximately the size of a football. It is our detox organ, cleansing our system of toxins and impurities. To give you an idea of how hard the liver works, 13% of your body’s blood is inside the liver at all times.
Inflammation is your liver’s worst enemy. Sadly, the standard American diet (SAD) is filled with foods that create inflammation. Most people consume these foods not just once, but multiple times a day throwing gasoline on the fire of their inflammation. Your liver is one of your first organs to take the hit, attempting to protect other vital organs including your heart.
Our liver was not designed to process the amount of sugar we consume today. When the liver cannot process the overload of sugar, it converts it into fat hence the term, “fatty liver”. There is a gourmet dish in France called foie gras, and it is prepared by the regrettable practice of force-feeding ducks and geese a combination of sugar, starch, and corn. This results in the birds’ livers becoming fatty. If we want to avoid the same fate, we need to avoid those same foods.
Avoid these 5 Foods To Keep Your Liver Healthy
1. Sugary Drinks
Do you want to do your liver a favor? Stop drinking sugary drinks including soda, energy drinks, iced tea, fruit juice, lemonade, and alcoholic beverages. According to a recent study, children diagnosed with fatty liver disease reversed the fat and inflammation in their livers by cutting back on soft drinks, fruit juice, and sugary foods.
2. Processed Meat
There is a saying that you’ve probably seen on a t-shirt: “I can’t make everyone happy, I’m not bacon.” Unfortunately, bacon doesn’t make your liver happy. Bacon is high in nitrates and other processed meat products including deli meat and hot dogs. According to this study, serum levels of nitrate and nitrite were higher in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease compared to healthy people.
3. Refined sugar
Eliminate all refined sugars from your diet to avoid fatty liver disease including high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and white table sugar. According to a study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, all sugars are suspected to contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which has the potential to progress into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
4. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates and starches including white flour and corn starch raise your blood sugar and place metabolic stress on your liver, contributing to high triglycerides which lead to a fatty liver. The consumption of refined carbohydrates also triggers insulin spikes and insulin sensitivity plays a major role in the development of liver disease according to this study.
5. Hydrogenated Fats and Trans fats
Hydrogenated fats include margarine and vegetable shortening. Basically, if a label says the product contains trans fats, don’t eat it. Your liver will thank you. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, dietary consumption of trans fatty acids leads to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Whole foods can be consumed as nature intended without toxic additives like dyes, bleaches, preservatives, chemicals, and fillers. Another benefit of whole foods is that they are balanced with vitamins and minerals for optimal absorption by our bodies.
Recommended Reading on Fatty Liver Disease
A book I have personally found very informative and helpful on this subject is Skinny Liver by Kristin Kirkpatrick and Ibrahim Hanouneh. I highly recommend it if you want to do further reading on how to avoid a fatty liver.
In conclusion, our liver will take good care of us if we take good care of it. To learn more about fatty liver disease, please visit the Global Liver Institute’s website by clicking here.
Spengler EK, Loomba R. Recommendations for diagnosis, referral for liver biopsy, and treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2015;90(9):1233–1246.
The Global Liver Institute