Do You Have a Fatty Liver? - NAFLD and EVOO - Blog # 62
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to highlight a widespread health issue, fatty liver. NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) affects 25% of us and has a very close relationship to insulin-resistance and obesity. So, why should we care if we have fat in our liver? 42 years ago it showed up out of nowhere and now it is affecting nearly 1 billion of us!! Let’s delve in to the research.
Prior to 1980, NAFLD didn’t exist in the medical world. If you died of liver cirrhosis, it was because you were likely an alcoholic. What caused this? Several things happened in our food world around this time.
- In the 1980’s, we significantly increased our use of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) as well as sugar usage in foods. “High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of several products—along with glucose, dextrose, corn starch, ethanol, and other products—derived from the wet milling of corn. U.S. corn refiners produce high fructose corn syrup by first converting corn starch to a syrup that is nearly all dextrose. Enzymes isomerize the dextrose to produce a 42-percent fructose syrup called HFCS-42. By passing HFCS-42 through an ion-exchange column that retains fructose, corn refiners draw off 90-percent HFCS and blend it with HFCS-42 to make a third syrup, HFCS-55. Domestic production of HFCS increased from 2.2 million short tons in 1980 to a peak of 9.5 million tons, dry weight, in 1999 as HFCS replaced more expensively priced sugar in a variety of uses.” “A second concern related to HFCS consumption is the presence of trace amounts of mercury in HFCS manufactured in the US. Caustic soda used in HFCS production is typically made at chlor-alkali plants that use mercury cells. Mercury is a potent neurological toxin (Dufault et al., 2009) that has been shown to be toxic to humans.”
- “U.S. sugar production has expanded from an early-1980s average of 6.0 million short tons, raw value (STRV) to an average 9.0 million STRV since 2016/17.”
- Glyphosate and GMOs - Monsanto began introducing genes to plants in 1983 that would withstand treatment with glyphosate. Glyphosate is actually patented as an antibiotic. Check out Blog # 50! “The destruction of bacteria in the human gut is a major contributor to disease, and the destruction of soil microbiota leads to unhealthy agricultural systems with an increasing dependence on agricul- tural chemicals. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of the herbicide glyphosate, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases…Despite the prevalent myth that this widely-used herbicide is harmless, glyphosate (N-phosphono-methyl glycine) is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, endocrine disrup- tion, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians…Glyphosate use in agriculture rose 300-fold from 1974 to 2014, with non-agricultural uses increasing by 43-fold during the same time.” On top of this, the inert ingredients are even MORE TOXIC than glyphosate!!!! It is truly criminal what has been done to our food supply!
In 2020, the NIH reported that NAFLD was rapidly becoming the most common cause of liver disease and liver transplants worldwide. Roughly 1/4 of the population has a fatty liver. This number is likely higher, as most people don’t even know they have it. “This is primarily driven by the global epidemic of obesity and diabetes as well as the aging of the general population.” NAFLD can also be caused by chronic stress, inflammation, poor microbiome and toxins. Fifty years ago, the cause of liver disease was due to alcohol. Now, it is due to a highly processed and high carbohydrate diet that is full of gut destroying chemicals. High fructose corn syrup added to our beverages and food, high sugar in fruit juices, sugary coffees, sodas and other beverages and glyphosate-treated foods are the real culprits. So, what is really happening?
To get into the nitty gritty we must understand what our body does with the food we consume. We all know having sodas and other beverages with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is bad for us. However, we’ve also been taught that having a nice breakfast with oatmeal, toast and a glass of orange juice is good for us. Let’s look at this simple meal and follow what happens in the body. Orange juice (as lovely as it can be) is HORRIBLE for us. It is a concentrated sugar bomb that has most of the fiber and beneficial nutrients, present in a whole orange, removed. We get a big shot of glucose and fructose.
Now add in the toast and oatmeal. This is another high carbohydrate sugar bomb load to our body, not to mention glyphosate load that will destroy our gut. This large dose of glucose is rapidly responded to by our Pancreas which delivers a high dose of insulin to get it out of circulation. This high insulin level remains for a long time after our blood sugar has gone down, leading to insulin-resistance. It is a well-documented phenomenon of biology that if there is A LOT of a substance around, the cells become resistant to that substance. This is akin to the scenario of an exhausted mother with several small children calling “mom” “mom” “mommy” “mommy”…“MOTHER!!!” She has reached a point where she is less sensitive to the constant attention demanded from her children.
Meanwhile, back at the liver, fructose is being broken down into glucose, fatty acids and URIC ACID. Uric acid wreaks havoc on our body, causing gout, HTN and many other issues. Uric acid only comes from 3 sources, fructose, alcohol or purines. Most purines in the body don’t come from the diet. They come from our own cells being broken down. Fructose turns on a process called gluconeogenesis (making glucose) and liponeogenesis (making fat). This glucose causes an additional insulin spike. Meanwhile, the liver literally makes saturated fat (palmitate) from sugar and fructose!!! The liver only does this when insulin is elevated. Insulin tells the liver what to do with the energy available. These saturated fats created by the liver produce ceramides that directly interfere with insulin and cause insulin resistance! The majority of saturated fats in our blood is not from the diet, but created by the liver!!!! Our triglyceride levels increase. Liver cells get replaced by fat cells. The more fat cells, the fewer the liver cells and the less ability the liver has to perform its job.
“High-fructose intake in humans is also associated with elevated serum uric acid, especially in the postprandial period. In turn, hyperuricemia is also associated with hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and kidney disease. While there continues to be debate on the role of uric acid in these conditions, there is increasing evidence that uric acid likely has a role in hypertension, insulin resistance, and CKD (chronic kidney disease).”
Take foisgras for example. This is the French word for the delicacy duck or goose liver. They achieve a fatty liver in the duck or goose by force-feeding sugar in the form of corn and starch. We are literally turning our liver into foisgras with our starchy, highly processed, high carbohydrate diet. So, when we eat a high carbohydrate diet, insulin turns on fat production by the liver. The liver makes palmitic acid (saturated fat), driving fuel into the cells to be stored as fat. Next, insulin literally locks it in the cell, preventing weight loss. Check out Blog # 58 on Obesity. The result is this visceral fat starts acting like an organ, producing inflammatory molecules (cytokines and interleukins) and hormones that perpetuate the problem. It is a driver of oxidative stress in the body, changes the balance/ratio of triglycerides and cholesterol molecules, increases blood clotting, increases uric acid levels, interferes with normal hormones causing PCOS for example. Alzheimer’s is now being termed Type 3 Diabetes of the Brain, due to insulin resistance.
Let’s take a look at what happens when we eat dietary fat. Fat creates NO INSULIN response. When insulin is absent, your metabolic rate goes up!! This is a very different process. When we eat butter or coconut oil, for example, the liver re-packages this fat into smaller packages called chylomicrons. These chylomicrons get elongated from 16 carbon chain into 18, then your fat cells desaturate it turning it into mono-unsaturated fat. Your body literally turns it into Oleic Acid (OA). WHAT??? Yes. Your body literally makes ‘olive oil’ from ingested saturated fat. This is how important Oleic Acid is in the body.
When we increase our EVOO (OA) in our diet, amazing things start to happen.
- First, no insulin spike - because it is fat. This gives the Pancreas a break from its endocrine function of producing insulin and allows it to focus on exocrine function. EVOO literally reverses insulin resistance. A study published in the journal Nature in 2019 reported “HFD-EVOO (high-fat-diet with EVOO) diets significantly improved glycemia, insulinemia, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and insulin degradation. Moreover, EVOO diets reduced β-cell apoptosis, increased β-cell number and normalized islet glucose metabolism and glucose induced insulin secretion.”
- Polyphenols - EVOO polyphenols are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, neuro-protective, anti-diabetic and they play a significant roll in our epigenetics. These wonderful compounds in HP-EVOO literally combat all the drivers of disease in our body.
- Fat is very satiating - You feel satisfied and therefore eat less overall. It is very beneficial for losing weight. However, the key is to get insulin low!!!
Okay! So, what can we do about NAFLD? Did you know that your body has its own innate healing system? It is way more powerful than any drug. Your body has the ability to make chemicals and molecules that absolutely can heal the body - without side-effects! Implementing strategies to make your body more insulin-sensitive, reduce stress and inflammation, improve sleep quality and learning how to stimulate autophagy (body’s clean-up and recycling system) is definitely the way to go. Let’s talk about some strategies.
- Take a good multivitamin - organic grass-fed beef liver is AMAZING
- Eliminate processed foods -they come in bags and boxes with barcodes! (Wheat,corn,soy) An ordinary sandwich spikes insulin more than 2 T table sugar.
- Eliminate sugar - sugary snacks and drinks. It is poison to the body and becomes white fat.
- Increase Omega 3s: Eat fatty fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, oysters, flax seeds, nuts
- Go Organic - eliminate pesticides, herbicides, additives (these kill your microbiome)
- Eat grass-fed dairy - cheese can actually be good for you. high in K2 and other phytonutrients
- Eat low glycemic carbs - the rainbow of vegetables and fruits - stick to ones that do NOT spike a huge insulin response like potatoes.
- Eat more good fat! Every cell in your body needs it, especially your brain! Choose HP-EVOO, avocado, ghee, grass-fed butter and coconut fat
- IF - intermittent fasting - like 12-18 hours without food. Eat your meals within an 8 hour window and stop snacking. We have >200 genes that help us adapt to scarcity and starvation. We have 0 designed for abundance. When we fast for several hours, our body’s clean-up system goes to work. This is called autophagy. The pancreas doesn’t have to make insulin, so now it can make enzymes that heal the body. Old cells, misfolded proteins, bacteria, viruses, cells becoming cancerous and old mitochondria are removed and recycled. Brand new mitochondria are made. This is like upgrading your body’s power supply! Your body makes new cells, new mitochondria, new proteins. All organ systems are able to rest and reboot, enhancing overall performance. Brain fog goes away, energy actually goes up.
- Autophagy - body’s clean-up system. Skip eating for one whole day (24 hours). Try once per month to start. You can do this once per week when your body gets accustomed. IF and EVOO help stimulate this system!!
- Include fermented foods - sauerkraut, kimchi, greek yogurt - if you don’t get a histamine reaction.
- Take ACV - Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) - acts directly to lower blood sugar, much like metformin (the 4th most prescribed drug). Take on an empty stomach with water before meals.
- Lemon - Feb 2021 study in Eur J Nutr: “lemon juice significantly lowered the mean blood glucose concentration peak by 30% (p < 0.01) and delayed it more than 35 min (78 vs. 41 min with water, p < 0.0001)…the effect of lemon juice was similar to what has been repeatedly observed with vinegar and other acidic foods. Including acidic beverages or foods in starchy meals thus appears to be a simple and effective strategy to reduce their glycemic impact.”
- Prebiotic - This is the fiber or food for our good microbes. Fiber also binds to remove extra cholesterol to help normalize cholesterol levels.
- Probiotic - Fix your gut microbiome, which is depleted in nearly everyone.
- Exercise - Improves function of insulin-binding receptors! Improves cellular uptake of insulin, decreasing blood sugar and blood insulin levels. Daily walking, moderate exercise, resistance exercise. Get a good sweat!!
- Meditate - Reducing stress is a very important component to lowering blood pressure. Utilize slow, rhythmic soft-belly breathing and mindful meditation.
- Cold shower - (if not sick) Take a hot shower, but end it with straight cold x 1 minute. This triggers so many good things in your body, including reducing stress, blood pressure and inflammation, enhancing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules, blood flow, energy and more. This stimulates your body to make more mitochondria!!!!
- Avoid alcohol - this spikes insulin like crazy so moderation is key.
- Sleep - make it a priority. Go to bed by 10. Eliminate LED and blue light an hour before bedtime. Take a hot bath. Utilize infrared and incandescent lighting. Light a fire or a candle.
- Hydrate - drink at least 1/2 your body weight in oz/day. Drink more if you take medications. Put a pinch of Himalayan sea salt under your tongue for the electrolytes.