Fatty liver is a condition affecting more than 90 million Americans. Fatty liver is also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is exactly how the name sounds- it is a buildup of fat in the liver. What is often misunderstood, is many believe that consuming too much fat is the cause of fatty liver. This is not the case.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, states, “Think about foie gras, the French delicacy made from duck or goose liver. It is made by force-feeding the animals a combination of sugar with corn and starch…intentionally creating a fatty liver.” He says when we consume sugar and starch, we are not only paving the way for chronic disease and inflammation, but for a fatty liver. He says, “Research shows that carbs (and not fat) produce more fat in your belly and liver.”
In the liver, fat production is turned “on” by sugar. Sugar and especially fructose are the cause of fatty liver. Carbohydrates are made out of smaller molecules of sugars and this is what it turns into when it gets digested. The sugar triggers fat production in the liver. This process is called ‘lipogenesis’. Dr. Hyman discusses that fatty liver causes inflammation in your body, which can lead to insulin-resistance, pre-diabetes, cirrhosis, heart attack, and even cancer.
Fatty liver is becoming such an epidemic that we are seeing young children with fatty livers due to the overconsumption of fructose-filled sodas. Fructose can also prevent the body’s ability to burn fat and increases the production of fat in the liver (ramps up lipogenesis on over-drive). In many situations, a fatty liver is often undiagnosed.
Dr. Hyman says you probably have a fatty liver if you consume a lot of flour, sugar, carbs, and have a little bit of belly fat. No one wants to end up taking medications as a result of complications from a fatty liver like blood pressure issues, diabetes, and heart disease causing deeper gut dysbiosis. To fix the problem, we need to address the root cause. Taking care of our microbiome also takes care of our liver. He makes it clear that the answer is in what we eat.
Dietary fat actually turns off the fat production in your liver, which means we can completely reverse or prevent fatty liver by focusing on what we put into our bodies.
What should we eat?
· Eliminate high-fructose corn syrup
· Remove processed flours, starches, processed carbohydrates, sugars. etc
· Consume plenty of fats- incorporate animal protein, natural fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, healthy fats like olive oils, coconut oil, avocados, and grass-fed butter. Eating plenty of healthy fats actually helps to stabilize blood sugar.
· Focus on cleansing and detoxifying foods like green vegetables, cabbage, sauerkraut, onion, garlic, etc.
· Consume enough animal proteins- meats, stocks, nuts seeds, eggs, organ meats, cultured dairy
It is crucial for us to have a healthy liver as it is an essential organ that combats toxins and rids the body of harmful substances and chemicals we are exposed to directly or indirectly in our everyday life. Fatty liver is completely preventable and reversible. In order to do this, it is critical for us to focus on healthy, wholesome, healing foods. This means plenty of healthy fats are necessary for the liver to be able to cleanse out toxins and restore the body’s homeostasis. The body uses good fats for fuel and energy, which means fat is not stored. Processed carbohydrates, sugars, and fructose turn on fat production in the liver and are the true cause of the epidemic of fatty liver we are seeing today. By having adequate amounts of healthy fats, your body will not only have a healthier liver free of fat accumulation, but also helps your body to be more resilient to inflammation and other conditions.
When client ask me, “Can I do GAPS with a fatty Liver?” My answer is = Absolutely! GAPS is the best thing for a fatty liver. We remove sugars, processed foods, breads, flours, etc and we focus heavily on healing foods like stocks, animal protein, and healthy fats! The GAPS diet is the perfect solution to remedy a fatty liver and to address the root cause of the issue. Take back your life, and your liver, today!