Avoid Sugar And Carbs To Prevent Fatty Liver

90 million Americans (and 17% of children in America) are living with fatty liver. This dangerous and misunderstood disease is the result of overindulging on sugar and starch. Fatty liver literally means your liver fills with fat. In all reality we are our own worst enemy, as we reach for another cookie, or another spoonful of pasta. With every mouthful, we put ourselves at risk for increased inflammation, which in turn increases our risk for developing countless other chronic diseases.

However, the name “Fatty Liver” is the misunderstood part of the disease. Research shows that it’s not fat that you need to stay away from. It’s the carbohydrates. Carbs are to blame for the amount of fat that accumulates in your belly and liver. Carbohydrates are made out of smaller building blocks that form a class of molecules known as sugars. When they are digested, it is more accurate to say that carbohydrates are “reduced” to sugars rather than “turned into” sugars. Sugar is what triggers fat production in your liver (a natural process known as lipogenesis). Therefore, our body’s natural response to sugar consumption is liver lipogenesis.

When we look at the food our children are consuming, a main ingredient is Fructose. Not only is fructose the most dangerous sugar that is directly transported to our liver, it actually prevents fat burning and upregulates the fat production in our liver. The increased fat production that occurs when we (and our children) consume copious amounts of sugar explains why simple carbohydrates, especially fructose, can become the ultimate cause of liver disease.

Sadly, most people with fatty liver are unaware of their condition. Even more sadly, we are seeing a trend of children developing fatty liver at a younger age because of poor diet choices, which include high-fructose soft drinks and constant carb-loaded foods. Fructose, the primary sweetener, can be considered a key culprit in the ever-increasing rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Luckily, there are tests and tools that help doctors identify and address fatty liver. Blood tests and ultrasounds can both detect fatty liver. An abnormal blood test reading needs to be taken serious and addressed as soon as possible. Even a normal blood test reading doesn’t mean you are completely off the hook. An ultrasound is a more sensitive and visual way to detect and diagnose fatty liver.

Although the liver isn’t always seen as the star of the show when it comes being an overall healthy person, the liver should never be disregarded. You need a healthy liver to combat toxins and chemicals that inevitably become part of your everyday surroundings. Keeping your liver healthy means you stay healthy, you don’t get sick, and you elevate your energy levels. Opposite of that, having a fatty liver puts you at risk for increased inflammation (which can lead to insulin resistance- also known as pre-diabetes),  high triglycerides, low HDL (“Good” cholesterol) and high LCL (“Bad” Cholesterol). Because of the association with a dangerous triglyceride and cholesterol profile, fatty liver also puts you at a higher risk to have a heart attack.

The good news is that fatty liver is a preventable and combatable condition. By understanding the difference between good fats and bad fats, we can begin to make better dietary choices for ourselves and our children. As mentioned earlier, sugar, not fat, is to blame for fatty liver. Dietary fat actually turns off fat production in the liver. Unlike carbohydrates and protein, the body prefers to burn dietary fat, rather than store it. Healthy dietary fats, (think coconut oil) can actually speed up your metabolism- which means you are turning that dietary fat into energy. By cutting processed carbs and increasing your intake of healthy dietary fats, your body is more resistant to inflammation, and other energy draining conditions.

There are several diet and lifestyle choices you can make to prevent and reverse fatty liver:

  1. Cut sugar and the massive amount of carbs you ingest on a daily basis. Adopting this healthy lifestyle change can help banish some of that stubborn belly fat.
  2. Get rid of high fructose corn syrup. Pay attention to food labels. Look at the ingredients of the products you are buying for your family, especially your children.
  3. Eliminate white, processed flour and greatly reduce the amount of starch in your diet. These increase your blood sugar, which in turn puts unnecessary stress on your liver.
  4. Choose healthy fats. Think Olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil.
  5. Choose super foods. Think vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, as well as leafy veggies like kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, and watercress.
  6. Increase the amount of protein in your diet. Think nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat. The key to balancing your blood sugar and insulin, reducing cravings and detoxing your liver is to include a protein source at every meal.
  7. Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Daily physical activity improves insulin resistance and reduces fatty liver.

Lastly, the right supplements can help promote balance while your body is healing. Herbs like milk thistle do wonders for liver health. Consider nutrients like lipoic acid and N-acetyl-cysteine, which are powerful antioxidants that help to heal and rejuvenate your liver while increasing the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Other liver-healing nutrients include B vitamins and magnesium.

Choosing the right supplement for you can be a challenge with different stores carrying various brands. KARE Health and Wellness carries Orthomolecular brand products which are available to purchase in office or over the phone. These pharmaceutical grade supplements are the best in the business as the quality of ingredients is unmatched in the supplement market.

A healthy liver is achievable with good conscience choices that can impact your long term health and well-being. Take control of your diet and your lifestyle by making choices that keep your liver healthy.

Keri Sutton - RN, MSN, ANP-C, AGPCNP-BC

Keri is a Nurse Practitioner and founder at Kare Health & Wellness. Keri's pursuit of personal answers to her own health issues landed her in the top of Functional Medicine. As she utilized functional Medicine to get her own health and life back, she made it her life's work to bring this empowering form of healthcare to as many people as she can.

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