Years ago, liver disease carried a terrible stigma.
When someone had it, it was assumed they had a drinking problem. And back then, alcoholism was often viewed as a failure of character rather than the disease that it is.
Today, more Americans than ever have liver disease. But for the vast majority, it has nothing to do with alcohol.
The statistics are terrifying…
More than 30% of Americans have the most common form of liver disease. It’s called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It’s also known simply as fatty liver.
At first, fatty liver has no symptoms. It may cause fatigue or discomfort in the upper right abdomen. But as it advances, it becomes life threatening.[i]
It can lead to jaundice, cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure.
Eventually, a liver transplant may be needed to save a patient’s life.
Here’s the worst part…
Because it has no symptoms in its early stages, the vast majority of people with fatty liver have no idea they have it. Their liver is silently dying—and they don’t realize that something they are doing is killing it.
Fatty liver used to be rare. But in the 1970s, food manufacturers started adding high fructose corn syrup to soda and other processed foods. Multiple studies have linked HFCS to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer…and fatty liver.
A new study shows exactly how HFCS destroys your liver.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine looked at mice that ate large amounts of fructose.[ii]
The excess fructose reduced proteins that support the gut barrier. That’s a layer of epithelial cells and mucus that keep bacteria and toxins from seeping out of your intestines and into your bloodstream.
The resulting leaky gut leads to a chronic condition called endotoxemia. Endotoxins reach the liver and make it inflamed and fatty.
One food more than any other has triggered America’s fatty liver epidemic, according to the study’s senior author, Dr. Michael Karin.
“The increased consumption of soft drinks containing HFCS corresponds with the explosive growth in NAFLD,” he said.[iii]
To keep your liver healthy, keep HFCS in your diet to a minimum. Especially avoid sugary soft drinks.
Many foods you might not suspect contain hidden HFCS. They include ketchup and barbecue sauces, commercial salad dressings, sports drinks, protein bars, breads and crackers. When in doubt, check the ingredients.
But be careful…
Food manufacturers are legally allowed to call HFCS a variety of things on labels. They include inulin, glucose-fructose, iso glucose, isolated glucose, isolated fructose, and fruit fructose.[iv]
A general rule of thumb is that if it ends in “ose,” avoid it.
Remember that foods labeled “natural” or “organic” can contain HFCS.
The Secret to Reversing Fatty Liver
Now you know what not to eat. Here’s what you should eat…
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a diet high in green leafy vegetables actually reverses fatty liver.[v]
The key is inorganic nitrate. This substance is found naturally in a number of vegetables.
Dr. Mattias Carlström worked on the study. He’s an associate professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet.
Researchers fed mice a high-sugar Western diet. This type of diet is associated with fatty liver disease.
Then they gave the animals dietary nitrate. Afterward, “we noticed a significantly lower proportion of fat” in the rodents’ livers, Dr. Carlström said.[vi]
He then did a follow-up experiment that confirmed the results in human liver cells.
As a bonus, nitrate lowered blood pressure and blood sugar while improving insulin response. So it may also be beneficial for warding off heart disease and diabetes.
The study found that vegetables high in nitrates reduce liver fat cells. Green leafy vegetables top the list. Per 100 grams of each, the top five are:[vii]
- Arugula, with 480 mg of nitrates
- Rhubarb, 247 mg
- Butter leaf lettuce, 200 mg
- Spring greens, 183 mg
- Beet greens, 177 mg
Dr. Carlstrom said that most people can get enough liver-healthy nitrates by eating about eight ounces of green leafy vegetables a day.
“It doesn’t take huge amounts to obtain the protective effects we have observed,” he said.
Maintaining a well-functioning liver is an indispensable part of good health. Don’t let processed foods silently destroy this vital organ.
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