Do You Have a Fatty Liver? 90 Million Americans Do!

by

The most common disease in America is something you probably never heard of, but it affects 90 million Americans and is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart attacks, and even cancer.

It is called NALFD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) or fatty liver, for short, and is caused by the 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour in our diet.

How do you know if you have it? What’s causing it? And how do you fix it? Do you exercise, take drugs, change your diet, or take supplements to fix it?

Many of you are probably wondering, “What is a fatty liver?” Some of you may have heard of foie gras. Foie gras is the French term for fatty liver that is used to describe a delicacy made from duck or goose liver. What happens to the livers of these animals as a result of the controversial practice of overfeeding is what you could be doing to your own liver, unknowingly. For those people who have this disease, essentially what they have is a liver that is full of fat, and that is a major cause of chronic disease and inflammation in the body.

How is it that we live in a country where fatty liver is the single most common disease, but most people have never even heard of it? 70 to 90 million Americans have a fatty liver and almost none of them know they have it. In fact, you might have it, as well, and not even know it.

What causes it?

In order to make foie gras, ducks or geese are force-fed sugar in the form of corn and starch—a sad practice. In the body, this sugar turns on a fat-production factory in the liver, a process known as lipogenesis, which is the body’s normal response to sugar. Fructose actually ramps up the lipogenesis response.

The high fructose corn syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver. Soda, which, frighteningly, is the number one source of calories in the American diet, is, then, the biggest cause of fatty liver.

How do you know if you have it?

There are blood tests available that can detect a fatty liver. You can also see it on an ultrasound. And if your test comes back abnormal, you are in trouble. But even if your test comes back normal, you might not be out of the woods. It’s important to know that a liver function test doesn’t always detect a fatty liver. An ultrasound can be more sensitive.

The bottom line is, if you eat a lot of sugar and flour, if you have a little bit of belly fat, or if you crave carbs, starch, and sugar, you probably have this.

Why is this a problem?

Fatty liver creates a whole cascade of issues. It causes inflammation in your body. This inflammation creates insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which causes your body to deposit fat not just in your liver but also all around your organs and in your belly.

That dangerous belly fat caused by the sugar and starch in your diet then creates even more problems. It causes you to have high triglycerides and low HDL, the good cholesterol. It causes you to have small LDL, the dangerous cholesterol particles that cause heart attacks.

In fact, having a fatty liver puts you at great risk for having a heart attack, and most people have no idea they have it. Certain populations like Latin Americans have a much higher risk of having a fatty liver.

And shockingly, now, we see 12-year-old boys who have lived on soda for years needing liver transplants from fatty liver. That’s pretty scary, and we really need to think about what we are doing to our children by feeding them these toxic substances.

When you have a fatty liver, you need to think about the damage it’s causing. You don’t want to end up with a liver transplant. You don’t want to end up needing to be on medications to fix the complications of a fatty liver like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and abnormal cholesterol. You want to get to the root of the problem.

How to fix your fatty liver

There are some really simple things you can do with diet, exercise, and supplements to help heal your fatty liver.

  • Cut out all high fructose corn syrup from your diet. If you see it on any label for any product—whether it’s a salad dressing or ketchup or tomato sauce—don’t eat it. Think about it: most servings of tomato sauce that you buy in a jar have more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies. Get rid of all that high fructose corn syrup from your diet, 100 percent, no exceptions.
  • Reduce or eliminate starch. Get rid of white, processed flour. Even whole grain flours can be a problem. It’s common to find too much of these starchy foods in the classic American diet, or what we call the SAD (Standard American Diet). All of those things will promote a fatty liver. You may be surprised to learn that it’s actually not fat that causes a fatty liver. It’s sugar. To learn more about why this is true, check out my book, The Blood Sugar Solution.
  • Add some good things to your diet to help heal your fatty liver. Add plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Add lean animal protein like chicken and fish. Add good oils like olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocados, coconut butter, and fish oil. Good fats like these are anti-inflammatory, and they help repair your liver.
  • Improve your metabolism through exercise. This is a fabulous way to improve insulin resistance and reduce fatty liver.
  • Use the right supplements. I do a lot of this with my patients, and I find it very effective. We give them herbs like Milk Thistle. We use things like Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant, and N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine. These things help boost something in your liver called glutathione. I encourage you to read my blog on glutathione, which talks about how this wonderful detox substance in your liver can be regenerated with certain supplements. And we use other things like B vitamins and magnesium. All these things will help your liver repair and heal.
  • Eat detoxifying liver-repairing super foods. Focus on the broccoli family. I love this family of foods, and I try to have at least a cup or two every day. Kale, collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, arugula, daikon radish—all wonderful foods that help repair and heal your liver. Garlic and onions, also, are full of sulfur, which is a great detoxifier.

I promise you, you don’t want a fatty liver. You need a healthy liver to help you deal with all the junk and chemicals in our environment. When you have a healthy liver, your body stays healthy, you don’t get sick, and you can feel good, which is what I want for everybody.

So, now I’d like to hear from you…

  • Are you concerned you may be at risk for fatty liver?
  • Have you been diagnosed?
  • What have you tried that has helped you? Or what hasn’t worked?

Share your questions and experiences in the comments section below, so that you may help others or others may help you. Share this House Call with your friends and family, and subscribe to receive one every week. Join me on Facebook and Twitter, and submit your questions, so that next week, I may make a House Call to you.

11 Responses to Do You Have a Fatty Liver? 90 Million Americans Do!

  1. Thomas Griffin November 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Will detoxing the liver help repair it from fatty liver disease?

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Thomas this is the idea! Good luck and keep us posted!

  2. fatty liver diagnosis December 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    I recently received a test result indicating a liver issue, and my Dr. said it is 95% likely to be a fatty liver, which he said is of no concern. In reading your article, I tend to agree with everything you’ve said here. My Dr. asked me to get an ultrasound of the liver and re-test my blood in 2mo’s. Do you think I should bother with the ultrasound, or should I continue doing eating healthy like I have been doing for the past few weeks and re-test and see if there is a difference?

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 27, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/
      Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching, please see: http://store.drhyman.com/Store/List/Coaching-Programs
      In Good Health,
      Dr. Hyman’s Wellness Staff

  3. Joaquin Mills December 7, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    Thank Dr.Hyman, I am addicted to sugar but learning to say no.I believe this is the cause of my problems. I have your book Ultramind soulution due to my adhd. I have started college at 48 years old, I would never have thought it possible before implimenting a lot of things from your book. I am so far an A- b student at cmcc in Auburn Maine. I dropped outout of high school because of adhd I thought I was stupid I am trying to get myself a functional med. Dr. But right now I am reading your book about sugar. THANK YOU so much for the work you do.I hope you have many blessings in this liftime and the next. Joaquin

  4. dianna December 13, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I am a sonographer and I see this every single day. I have been scanning livers for 25 years and I would guess that more than 70 % of the abdomens I scan have fatty liver. This has increased over the years . I also now see fatty liver and gallstones in many more younger people than ever before. It has become epidemic in my practice. there has of course also been an increase in the number of over weight patients as well. I preach all of the things you talk about in the article above to everyone I know. We eat an abundance of cruciferous vegetables as well as garlic and good fats. I’m passing this article on to people I know as well. thank you for a great article on this subject.

  5. sreenivas December 23, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    I do have fatty liver begeening stage. please advise about what sort of food i can have also how to heal the fatt.

    thanks

    Sreenivas

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/
      Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching, please see: http://store.drhyman.com/Store/List/Coaching-Programs
      In Good Health,
      Dr. Hyman’s Wellness Staff

  6. Mike December 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Hi Dr Hyman, My wife and I have a great deal of respect for you and the work you have done, we recently added your protein shake to our menu for breakfast in fact it is the only thing for our breakfast with the exception of two days a week. I do have NAFLD and I take it very serious as I understand the function of our liver and how much we need it to be healthy, I have recently added the supplements you have named to my diet and am very good at taking it everyday.

    My problems are quite complex as I think they all are caused by a Heterozygous MTHFR A1298C mutation along with a Homozygous MAO-A R297R. I am 49 male 250lbs. very active when not in the house depressed and wired from anxiety. The following are what I struggle everyday with…

    Anxiety and depression my whole life recently gotten much worse until I finally found a good ND who understands MTHFR mutation’s
    Crohn’s disease I am not sure I have ever suffered symptom’s although
    NAFLD diagnosed Summer 2012
    Gluten allergy started around 2000

    I stopped dairy for about 6 month’s only cheating rarely but have recently added it back because my ND told me for the first time ever I was low in calcium and protein and I almost never touch wheat. The wheat and dairy are extremely difficult for me as I was raised on heavy amounts of both and they are almost entirely in everything. Sugar is one that my wife and I have really faced a wake up call on as it is so damaging on so many levels mainly as an inflammatory agent.

    Thanks for all of your honest help

  7. Alleta Baltes January 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    I have been following your advice for the past year, with probably 80% regularity. I loved the article about what to eat– canned sardines, olives, cut up veggies, small cooler, etc. on the go. My cholesterol dropped almost 100 points and my triglycerides dropped unbelievably too. My good fats LDL are still low — hard to accept I really can eat fat. Thanks for your wonderful advice. I am also exercising moderately daily for at least 30 minutes (most days, most weeks). Thanks for the great advice. Your work is amazing.

  8. LuAnn January 30, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    My doctor diagnosed me with fatty liver and basically led me to believe it was because I was fat. I never heard a word about sugar. Now my new doctor is opening my eyes which led me to your site. I am thankful to know what I actually “have” and how to take care of myself. I wonder how many other doctors are diagnosing and not helping their patients through this especially with something as important as your liver?

Leave a Reply