Have you ever had foie gras? It’s a French delicacy made by force-feeding a duck or a goose to give it a fatty liver and give that liver a unique flavor. Pretty shocking stuff. But what do they feed the animals to produce this fatty liver? Fat, right? Nope! Sugar, corn and starch.
So when your doctor tells you that you need to reduce the amount of fat in your diet and replace it with carbohydrates, may the alarm bells ring loudly in your head. Here’s why. Research shows that carbs—and NOT FAT—cause a buildup of fat in your belly and liver. Bad news. And pretty counter-intuitive.
But what actually happens is that sugar switches on a fat-production factory in your liver: a process called lipogenesis. It’s your body’s first response to sugar, particularly fructose. Yes, fructose is the most detrimental type of sugar for your fatty liver. It heads straight for your liver, when the lipogenesis kicks in immediately. Are you consuming a lot of fructose?
It can be found in:
- Fruit juices
- Tea, when sweetened with sugar
- Energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull)
- Wine coolers
- Starbucks Frappuccino
- Cakes, pies and pastries
- Candy bars and cookies
- Ice cream and other frozen treats, including low-fat fruit yogurts
- Breakfast cereals, including corn flakes, raisin bran and some granolas; cereal bars
- Condiments, salad dressings and sauces, including reduced-fat French dressing and balsamic vinaigrette
- Dried fruits: raisins, dates and figs
- Canned fruit, jellies and jams
- Sweet Asian sauces, including teriyaki sauce
- Honey, maple syrup and agave syrup
- Brandy and liqueurs
Fatty liver is now the most common liver disease and the leading cause of liver transplant, too. And it can lead to the sort of inflammation that can trigger insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and visceral fat (where fat builds up around your organs and middle).
But that’s not the only type of havoc excess sugar and starch can create in your body: you might be saying hello to high triglycerides, low HDL (that’s the “good” cholesterol), high bad cholesterol (yes, LDL), and a higher chance of heart attack.
Signs Of Fatty Liver
This is quite disturbing: most people have absolutely no idea they have a fatty liver.
The possible signs and symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Enlarged breasts in men
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Dietary Fat And Fatty Liver
Want to hear something crazy? You’d think that dietary fat would make a fatty liver worse, right? Wrong! Dietary fat actually TURNS OFF fat production in your liver. Weird…
But cool: dietary fat doesn’t trigger insulin secretion in the pancreas (unless you combine it with carbs—which spells disaster). When you eat the right types of fat, you can increase your metabolism wonderfully, stimulate fat burning beautifully and decrease hunger pangs big time.
The Fat You Need
So here’s what to do:
- Increase the amount of coconut or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil in your diet.
- Increase healthy saturated fat foods, like grass-fed beef
- Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids into your meals (try chia, flax and omega-3 oils containing krill oil)
- Cut processed carbs of all kinds, and whole grains (if cold turkey is very challenging, try consuming small amounts of millet, quinoa and buckwheat while you transition)
- Consume lots of fiber-rich, low-carb vegetables, like leafy greens
This may sound strange. The truth is that the government tells us to limit saturated fat to 7-10% of all calories consumed. And the whole grains! The truth is that healthy saturated fats lower inflammation when you eat them as part of a low-carb, omega-3 rich, high fiber plan.
The Early Tell Alls
Watch out for the early signs that may be associated with a fatty liver, including:
- Cravings for carbohydrates
- A little belly fat
- Eating lots of sugar and/or flour
You can also get a blood test or an ultrasound, which can both pick up the disease. An ultrasound is more sensitive and likely to detect it.
Reversal and Prevention
If you’re worried about getting fatty liver, or you already have it and would like to improve the situation, here are the key strategies you’ll want to employ:
- Choose protein
Fill up on nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken and grass-fed meat. Integrate about a palm-sized serving of these foods into every meal, especially your first meal of the day.
- Start a liver-repair plan
Eat detoxifying foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts; pack in around 1-2 cups of leafy greens like cabbage, arugula, watercress, kale and collards every day. Try increasing your garlic and onion consumption, too! Their natural sulfur content helps you flush out liver toxins. Beets and carrots are also nice.
- Supplement yourself
Healing is optimized when your body is getting everything it needs to transform you into a healthier version of yourself. Some helpful liver-supporting supplements include
- Herbs like organic milk thistle, turmeric and dandelion. We love Purathrive – it’s an organic Tumeric.
- Nutrients, such as lipoic acid and N-acetyl-cysteine, which increase levels of the powerful mother-of- all-antioxidants, glutathione (as does milk thistle)
- Vitamins and minerals: B vitamins and magnesium are essential
- Add healing oils
As mentioned above, healthy fats are absolutely critical if you want to have a healthy liver. Consume:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil or MCT oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Fish and krill oil
And get plenty of low-sugar fruits, like berries: vegetables, lean animal protein, seeds and nuts into your body.
All of these will help curb the sugar cravings and combat sugar damage.
- Move to improve metabolism
Daily exercise improves insulin resistance. Walking for 30 minutes is a great start. Your dog will love it, too.
- Say farewell to the carbs
This is the last but most important point here. If you do anything, eliminate the sugar! Say chau to high-fructose corn syrup, most significantly. Tell starches you no longer need their services, that you choose health, want more energy and are on the road to bullet-proof wellness.
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