Fatty Liver Secretly Leads to Organ Failure
I have some good news for you and some bad news.
First, the bad news. We’re killing our livers. Cirrhosis and liver cancer —which used to be exclusively problems of alcohol, drugs, or hepatitis—are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Only it’s not just caused by drugs anymore. Today, most liver damage I see is caused by other lifestyle choices. Specifically, our nutritional choices. Right now, about 30% of Americans suffer from fatty liver disease—a condition that is silent until the liver starts to fail, resulting in cirrhosis or cancer.
But I promised you good news as well, and here it is: If you monitor your liver’s health regularly, and make the right lifestyle changes early, you can easily stop fatty liver before it becomes a big health problem.
In today’s article, I want to give you a better idea what fatty liver disease is, and why you should be worried about it.
But then I’m also going to tell you exactly how you can banish fatty liver from your life, and spend your time on more fruitful things.
The Silent Killer
Fatty liver disease is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the body has too many fat cells, or a few renegade fat cells, and some of them find their way into your liver.
Now, it’s important to realize how resilient your liver is. It has astonishing regenerative powers—your liver is the only organ where a partial transplant can grow within the body to become a fully functioning organ.
That power also allows the liver to continue to work at max capacity around all sorts of adversity.
But make no mistake—fat cells invading your liver can lead to catastrophe.
The fat interferes with your liver’s normal systems, making the organ work overtime to get the same amount done.
Fat irritates your liver, causing swelling. And consistent swelling is a sure precursor to eventual cancer.
Finally, a fatty liver is sustaining lots of damage, which eventually becomes fibrosis—basically, scar tissue. When enough of the liver is damaged and scarred, the organ will eventually suffer from cirrhosis and stop functioning normally.
In extreme cases, your liver can shut down entirely.
But because liver function is more of an on-off switch, instead of a dimmer, a person can live with fatty liver disease for a decade or more without showing any outward signs.
That means, without careful monitoring, it’s very easy to miss a case of fatty liver.
What’s more, we don’t have any drugs to combat fatty liver disease. Because of that, many doctors ignore it. If there’s no medical treatment, then there’s no way to help—or to bill.
That’s how fatty liver disease became, perhaps, the least diagnosed major illness in America.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
How To Avoid, Or Halt, Fatty Liver Disease
First off, everyone should get tested for fatty liver.
It doesn’t matter what you look like. Fatty liver is often linked to obesity, but a completely svelte person could be storing fat in their liver as well.
Despite its title, fatty liver disease has more to do with what foods you are eating, as opposed to how your metabolism deals with those foods. Indeed, the sufferers most likely to go undiagnosed are folks who are naturally skinny, but eat poorly and seldom exercise.
Their doctors don’t often think about fatty liver—so it goes unnoticed.
But fatty liver is exceptionally easy to diagnose. It can show up in blood tests. An ultrasound will show the fat cells that have invaded the liver.
And, whenever I find a likely case of fatty liver, I always run a Fibrosure test. That looks for fibrosis—scar tissue—so I can see what damage has already been wrought.
If, after screening, you find that you suffer from fatty liver, I have great news.
You can completely stop the damage through four simple changes.
#1. Avoid sugar. Any sugar not used for energy in the very short term, is converted into dangerous triglycerides and stored in your liver.
#2. Exercise. As it is for almost every function of the body, exercise improves your efficiency, and helps to clean out toxins. If you have a fatty liver, exercise alone will make a world of difference.
#3. Drink more water. As above, water greases the wheels for every body function. The liver is no different.
#4. Eliminate processed foods. You know all those unpronounceable chemicals you see on the side of boxes—the ones people sometimes say you don’t have to worry about, because they’re just preservatives?
Well, it’s true—they are preservatives. But you absolutely should be worried about them.
Preservatives literally pickle our liver from the inside, reducing its function and opening the door for invasive, inflammatory fat cells.
If you’ve got fatty liver disease, the best, most effective change you can make is to cut out sugar and processed foods. When you stop introducing dangerous chemicals and preservatives into your system, you give your liver a chance to cleanse itself, and then regenerate.
Unfortunately, once you have fibrosis—scar tissue—that damage is hard to undo. But if you catch it early, you should be able to eliminate the damaging toxins we eat in our foods, and allow the liver a chance to regenerate.
And even if you already have some fibrosis, the liver is extremely capable. If you stop eating sugar and processed foods, you’ll stop doing damage, inflammation will go down, and you’ll most likely be able to live a completely normal, healthy life.
But it’s extremely important to cut out processed foods.
The same can be said for those of us with healthy livers—as we don’t want to develop fatty liver disease, nor any of the other maladies that processed foods bring.
Fatty liver disease doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It doesn’t even have to be a problem at all.
As long as you monitor your liver function—and clean up your diet if you ever spot a problem—then fatty liver disease never need affect your health or your life.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: November 25, 2015