With everybody you have ever followed on social media sites doing Dry January or some other kind of cleanse, how is it that around 25 percent of American adults have some type of liver condition right now? Yes, your liver appreciates the break from drinking. But alcohol isn’t the only thing that’s hurting it, said Michael D. Leise. “I do not drink that much” should be retired from the “my liver’s okay” canon, because if you carry the extra weight, get very little exercise, or have spells of overeating, your liver’s more than likely not fine.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a type of condition that is exactly what it sounds like: an Unhealthy amount of fat builds up in your liver. With time, this could cause that organ to swell up, scar, and eventually fail or develop cancer. During 2016, the number of people with NAFLD cases in the United States were expected to rise 18 percent by year 2030 to over 100 million. Chances of getting the disease are higher if you are overweight or have diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. But the disease can also hit people without these problems.
That is because regardless of your risk, your diet could help cause or prevent NAFLD. Your liver gets first pick on the blood coming in from your digestive system, so what was in the food you ate filters through the liver before heading anywhere else in the body. Overeating can back up the liver’s processing abilities— especially if you consume a lot of foods that are high in carbs and fat.
Scared? Good. That is incentive to reverse the fat buildup in your liver. You could do that within just a few weeks, said Elizabeth J. Parks. What you should do:
Avoid double bad foods
As in foods that are high in processed carbs and fat, like barbecue-chicken pizza or doughnuts, says Parks. After you eat carbs and fat, your liver converts the sugar that’s in the carbs into fat, and both are then stored as energy. The problem is many people never remove it from storage. Fat buildup within your liver could happen fast. Parks coauthored a study that mimicked a tailgate: 18 guys drank about 5,000 calories’ worth of high-sugar, high-fat, food and drinks in an afternoon. Within a few hours, nine of them had new fat deposits in their livers. Do not go light on all unsaturated fats or especially omega-3’s might help keep NAFLD at bay.
Quit eating early
Even if you are eating healthy food, your calorie consumption matters. Weight gain is one of the largest risk factors for NAFLD. One simple weight-management strategy: make a carb curfew. While eating your bagel in the morning has a greater chance of being burned off throughout the day, a sugary cereal bedtime snack will probably become liver fat overnight, said Parks.
Being sedentary might cause NAFLD—even if you are not overweight. Movement of any kind, even three or four 20- to 40-min moderate- intensity exercises a week, could help get rid of existing liver fat and keep new fat from being stored and produced. Both cardio and resistance training help.
Ask for a liver-function test the next time you’re getting a routine blood panel test. Doctors might not automatically order this for you if you are not at risk for NAFLD, but it does not hurt to have the numbers.
Author: Blake Ambrose