Constitutional Health Network:
Is Your Liver Killing Your Heart?
Is Your Liver Killing Your Heart?The “liver cleanse” has been a fad for a while now, but a new study suggests that instead of “cleansing” your liver, you might need to put it on a low-cal diet instead. The study came from researchers at Pierre and Marie Curie University in France and was published in the American Journal of Hepatology.
 
It concluded that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—a condition which often goes hand in hand with obesity and diabetes—raises your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly. The study in question found that people with NAFLD were much more likely to develop fatty deposits in their carotid arteries, the major arteries of the neck which supply blood to the brain.

This disease was unheard of before the 1980s—here’s why

Whether so-called “nonalcoholic fatty liver disease” is really a disease in and of itself is debatable. As the name implies, people with this condition have too much fat in their livers, which isn’t normal or healthy. This phenomenon is something that normally only happens in alcoholics. In fact, until the 1980s it was practically unheard of in any other population. But as our waistlines have expanded and the average weight has ballooned, NAFLD has become ever more common in the general population.
 
Left unchecked, NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure. And if the Curie University study is to be believed, it can also lead to hardening of the arteries and the dangers that go along with it. Today, it’s estimated that some 2 to 5 percent of the population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 70 percent of people with diabetes also have NAFLD, as do a large percentage of those who are obese. But is nonalcoholic fatty liver really a disease, or simply one more symptom of our deranged American diet?
 
Here’s what happens in NAFLD: the liver itself normally makes and stores fat, which it later breaks down and uses for energy. However, when the liver stores too much fat, the fat interferes with its ability to do its job. It becomes inflamed. In severe cases, this causes scarring. This inflammation and scarring are what we call cirrhosis of the liver, and it can kill. But what causes the liver to make more fat than it can use? And what’s changed so drastically since the 1980s?
 
There’s been one dramatic change since the 1980s: the way we eat .

Eating this causes liver fat

Until the mid-70s, sweets like desserts and soft drinks were sweetened with sugar. Real sugar. Sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets. Then in the middle of the decade sugar prices went through the roof. And guess what began to replace sugar?
 
You guessed it. High fructose corn syrup. And soon it had crept into products which had never had sugar added before. From bread to salad dressings to savory foods like meat products, high fructose corn syrup was everywhere. Today you’ll find it in nearly every food on supermarket shelves. Shortly after the introduction of HFCS is when we started seeing fatty livers in people who weren’t alcoholics. And there’s a very good reason why.
 
There are many different types of sugar. Glucose. Fructose. Lactose. Maltose. Galactose. And more. All but one of these are processed in the digestive system and converted into glucose, which the body then either burns for fuel or stores as body fat. Fructose, however, isn’t processed in the digestive system like other sugars. Instead, fructose is processed by the liver. And when the liver is bombarded with more fructose than it can use, guess what happens? Like any other excess sugar, it’s stored as fat. But in this case, it becomes liver fat.
 
Is Your Liver Killing Your Heart? Left unchecked, NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure. And if the Curie University study is to be believed, it can also lead to hardening of the arteries and the dangers that go along with it. Today, it’s estimated that some 2 to 5 percent of the population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 70 percent of people with diabetes also have NAFLD, as do a large percentage of those who are obese. But is nonalcoholic fatty liver really a disease, or simply one more symptom of our deranged American diet?
 
And it’s true. But the ratio of fructose to glucose is completely different than natural sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is supposed to be 55% fructose and 45% glucose. However, investigations have found the ratio in some brands of soda pop to be as high as 65% fructose. But even at 55%, this is much, much more fructose than our bodies were designed to handle.
 
 
It’s in practically every food we eat that we didn’t cook from scratch ourselves, even if it’s not a food that tastes sweet. Now, in the natural scheme of things our only sources of fructose are fruits and honey. Before the advent of high-fructose corn syrup, we ate only very small amounts of fructose. But once HFCS hit the scene and spread like a virus through the food supply, suddenly we were eating many times the amount our livers were designed to handle.
 
And the health problems began. Hardening of the arteries is just one more ill effect to lay at the doorstep of corn syrup manufacturers and Big Food.

Here’s the solution to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Left unchecked, NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure. And if the Curie University study is to be believed, it can also lead to hardening of the arteries and the dangers that go along with it. Today, it’s estimated that some 2 to 5 percent of the population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 70 percent of people with diabetes also have NAFLD, as do a large percentage of those who are obese. But is nonalcoholic fatty liver really a disease, or simply one more symptom of our deranged American diet?
 
Fortunately, NAFLD is reversible in most cases. Even when the condition has progressed to scarring of the liver, the body can often repair the damage—if you lose the liver fat. The answer is to lose weight. Studies consistently find that losing 10% or more of your bodyweight reverses nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Even a 5% weight loss improves the condition significantly.
 
I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have to say: this is just one is just one more nail in the coffin of added sugars and of high fructose corn syrup in particular. If you needed another reason to kick the Standard American Diet to the curb, this is it. 
 
The Standard American Diet really is SAD. It’s a prescription for disease with your name on it, and if you want to avoid its pitfalls the most important things you can do are these:
  • Don’t buy products with added sugars.
  • Cook for yourself. This puts you in control of your food.
 
And last but not least— eat real food. If it has an ingredient list a mile long, it’s not food. It’s a disease waiting to happen. 
 

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