Most of us are aware that drinking too much alcohol is bad for our livers, but did you know that of the 5.5 million Australians with fatty liver disease, only 6000 of them are due to alcohol? And sugar happens to be one of the main causes of poor liver health.
Our livers are rather awesome organs. They clear the blood of toxins, drugs, waste products and hormones. They produce essential proteins. They make bile so that our bodies can break down food. They store and release fats and sugars and they send vitamins, minerals and iron to various parts of the body when needed.
Sugar and your liver
Sugar is sucrose, made up of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. The liver deals with glucose by either using it for energy or storing the excess for when we are running low. This form of energy storage is called glycogen and it’s like a spare battery. When we are plugged in/eating we charge it up.
When we are unplugged/low on fuel the body first uses what’s in the bloodstream, then uses our glycogen stores. With fructose, the liver works very differently. Whether it needs energy or not, the liver is constantly pulling fructose from the blood and storing it. If you already have a ‘full tank’ when it comes to energy, that fructose immediately gets turned into fat and then more fat and more fat!
If you’ve seen That Sugar Film, you’ll know how quickly Damon’s high sugar diet impacted his health. In just three weeks, he’d been diagnosed with a fatty liver.
Left untreated, fatty liver disease works in the same way as liver disease caused by alcohol. The liver becomes scarred and eventually cirrhosis, irreversible liver damage, begins. Fatty liver disease is also a major risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes.
It’s also important to remember that people who are skinny can have fatty livers. The best way to get a diagnosis is with a blood test and liver ultrasound.
The good news!
The liver is one of the most amazing organs in the body, it’s able to regenerate and restore itself. In many cases it’s possible to reverse fatty liver disease through a change in diet and regular exercise.
Helping your liver
The best thing you can do to help your liver is to cut out overly processed and packaged foods and replace them with a diet high in fresh vegetables, eggs, meat, nuts, fish and healthy oils. It’s also important to drink at least two litres of water each day, as water helps to flush the liver.
Check out our new e-book for a range of recipes that will keep your liver healthy and happy!