It bugs me that conventional medicine is only starting to talk about the dangers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) now. As if it hasn’t been a growing problem for the better part of the last decade.
And it’s even more frustrating that most doctors need to be reminded that fatty liver, heart disease, and diabetes go hand in hand. The connection makes perfect sense, after all.
All three conditions are common complications of obesity. And we all know there’s no shortage of that in this country—thanks in large part to the way most Americans eat.
I mean, how brainwashed have traditionally trained physicians become? Why aren’t they putting two and two together on their own?
Maybe it’s because they know nothing about diet or nutrition. All I know is that they better get their heads out of the sand fast. Because the research on the risks of NAFLD just keeps piling up.
Like a recent Japanese study of over 3,000 patients—none of whom had hepatitis, diabetes, or alcohol problems. Imaging revealed that just under a quarter, however, had NAFLD.
Over a decade later, follow up showed that just over 16 percent of the patients with fatty liver went on to develop diabetes—as compared to only 3 percent of patients without NAFLD.
In other words, fatty liver raised the risk of diabetes nearly six fold. Which makes sense, when you consider the critical role your liver plays in glucose metabolism.
Remember, fatty liver forms because this organ is overloaded with sugar. It stows away as much of this excess as it can to use as an emergency energy reserve. And then it turns the rest into deadly triglycerides. Which leads me to the results of another recent study.
A team of French researchers found that NAFLD is also a strong predictor of carotid atherosclerosis—that is, stiffening of the carotid artery. Even when patients don’t have any other heart risk factors.
Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease had more plaque in their carotid arteries. And their risk of blockage increased 34 percent. (Carotid blockages are what lead to strokes.)
These patients also had higher Framingham scores. The Framingham Risk Score calculates your cardiovascular risk—and, this is one “test” where lower is always better.
So what does this all mean?
First and foremost, it means that doctors need to start screening their high-risk patients for fatty liver. (Which is usually done via ultrasound, testing for liver enzymes and biomarkers like CK18, or a combination of the three.) Because this is the first time that research has revealed NAFLD as a significant, independent risk predictor.
Not that the discovery is at all surprising. In fact, just six months ago I told you about a study linking fatty liver to early signs of heart disease in obese children. (Yes, the problem really is that widespread. And that serious.)
So it’s a good thing that there are several very simple solutions at your fingertips. Like drastically slashing your sugar intake, for starters. (And especially high fructose corn syrup.) In fact, this is by far the most important step you can take.
Targeted supplementation is also key. And as I shared with you back in February, vitamin E is one of your strongest allies.
That’s one of the many reasons I recommend 800 IU of vitamin E per day. Just be sure to look for a full-spectrum supplement with high levels of gamma tocopherol, along with all the other tocopherols and tocotrienols, too.
“Fatty Liver Disease Tied to Diabetes, Atherosclerosis.” Medscape. Apr 11, 2014.