A Bigger Threat to Your Liver Than Alcohol
“I’ve been trying to drink more alcohol lately.”
That was the first thing I said to Chris Campbell, our Laissez Faire Today editor, when he asked me what I’d been up to lately.
We were catching up in the kitchen of Agora Financial (that’d be our parent company) on one of the rare occasions when Chris is able to “come up for air” between writing issues.
Alcohol was the topic of the last Living Well Daily e-letter I wrote. Since then, you’ve gotten a thorough breakdown on stevia, the natural sweetener, from our Queen of Quality Assurance, Jasmine LeMaster… so I guess you could say the theme has been rather Dionysiac of late.
(That was just a little shoutout to Brad Lemley, editor of our Natural Health Solutions newsletter, who gleefully peppers his writing with ten-dollar words I usually have to look up. You can check out his cutting-edge information on health and fitness here.)
Today, I’ll continue the theme of sensory excess, and how to toe the line of good health and gratifying experiences.
I told Chris that for at least a couple years, I’ve steadfastly avoided the sauce, mostly for health reasons. But since coming on board here and reading more of Brad’s barely controlled rants on the science (and culture) of health today… I’ve come to see the value in a little well-managed poison.
Because a proper dose can actually build a more robust body. Just like exercise.
Still, many people steadfastly avoid any kind of alcohol because of concerns for their liver…which is completely ignoring a health threat that might be even more insidious: NAFLD, which stands for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
This term refers to the accumulation of fat in the liver. A healthy liver will have, at most, 5% fat by weight.
But as someone develops NAFLD, their liver gets fatter and fatter. Even though inflammation and scarring begins to develop as a result, there are no signs, symptoms, or complications… at least at first…
… until the disease progresses to something called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. At this point, as much as 50-80% of liver weight may be made up of fat.
The next stop on that train is often liver failure.
In fact, according to a Gastroenterology study, NASH rose in the ranks to become the third most common reason for liver transplants from 2001-09, just behind hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease. (So alcohol abuse is still a horrible problem… but we’re all adults here, so I doubt I have to harp on the distinction between moderation and excess.)
Now, here’s the thing: This study found that NASH was the only cause of liver transplants on the rise during that time period, and predicted it would soon become the No. 1 cause of liver transplants. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a more recent study — at least not yet — to see if this is still coming true.
Either way, it’s an alarming issue today.
But there’s a reason why these diseases are called “nonalcoholic”: A study published this year from the University of Ulm Medical Centre in Germany showed that alcohol consumption has essentially nothing to do with fatty liver these days, unless you’re a heavy drinker! In fact, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower incidence of fatty liver.
So what’s causing so many livers to choke on their own fat?
On Wednesday, Jasmine will have the answer for you.
Underground Health Researcher
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