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Can Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease be Prevented?

Fatty deposits in the liver have been increasing for several years. It occurs in a third of Americans, associated with adult onset diabetes and obesity.
When I was in medical school we only saw fatty livers in alcoholics, before the scarring of liver cirrhosis had occurred. Why should non-alcoholics get fatty livers?

Let’s look for parallels. Alcoholic fatty liver occurs when too much alcohol is used too often. It can develop rapidly in persons who drink distilled spirits. I remember a woman patient who started drinking over half a pint of whiskey a night while waiting for her husband to come home from the bars or where ever. It took less than a year to cause enlargement of her liver. Similarly when native peoples were given whiskey, some rapidly became alcoholics and suffered liver damage. Their genes didn’t develop over the centuries to use high concentrations of alcohol.

Why is fatty liver disease progressing so rapidly now? What foods or beverages are we using in the last several years that our bodies were not genetically prepared for? Over the past 30 years when many people started using low fat foods, they bought beverages and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, a chemical modification of regular corn syrup that is very sweet. By 1970 the average American had progressed to using 100 pounds of cane sugar a year. At the present 150 pounds of sweeteners, mainly high-fructose corn syrup, diabetes and obesity have increased dramatically.

Doctors tell us to eat less fat but ignore the research by Dr. Bantle and Dr. Reisen who found that both normal and diabetic patients had a lot of LDL-cholesterol and tri-glycerides in their blood after consuming high-fructose corn syrup. These blood fats were produced in their livers. If the liver is constantly bombarded with more high-fructose corn syrup, some of the fat it makes from this abnormal sugar probably stays in the liver cells.

Dr. Kirk Stokel in a comprehensive article in the December issue of “Life Extension” magazine describes nonalcoholic liver disease. He says medical science can’t prevent it but the anti-diabetic drug Metformin can help. Nutritional supplements to fight this condition include vitamin E, omega 3-fatty acids and sulfur-rich compounds like SAMe and NAC as well as phospholipids and silymarin because they’re good anti-oxidants.

I say, keep your liver from making excess fats by avoiding high-fructose corn syrup.

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