Maybe you’ve heard of foie gras. It’s French for “fat liver”—a food made from the liver of a duck or goose specially fattened by force feeding. The making of foie gras is highly controversial, but did you know that humans could also be sitting ducks due to their fat livers? It’s a growing trend and the focus of several studies.
It may not sound all that threatening…a fat liver…but it can and does cause more problems than most people realize. Being overweight is a major risk factor for fatty liver, so if you’re carrying around excess pounds, then you may want to consider just how much that extra weight is affecting your liver health.
The truth is that non-alcoholic related liver unhealth is a global problem and, like the growing obesity trend, is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. In fact, the number of people at risk for developing chronic liver issues is likely to increase.
One of the primary ways of paving the way to an unhealthy liver is consuming excessive calories—just like the ducks and geese being groomed for foie gras. Here’s why: when the liver doesn’t process and break down fats as it should, then too much fat accumulates around it.
Those who may be more at risk for developing extra heft in their livers include those who are overweight, those with unbalanced blood sugar and triglyceride levels, as well as those who undergo rapid weight loss or who are malnourished. Some people, however, can develop a fatty liver without any of these situations, so everyone should be aware.
A fatty liver may cause no damage at all or it may lead to liver inflammation, which can cause liver damage. This may, in turn, lead to tissue scarring and/or hardening of the liver (cirrhosis) and can ultimately lead to liver failure.
One of the ways to support your liver’s health is to eat a healthy diet and don’t overeat. You should also safely lose any excess weight—at the rate of about one-to-two pounds per week—and increase your physical activity. Maintaining healthy triglyceride and blood sugar levels is smart, too.
Treating your liver right is important because it does so much. For instance, it manufactures blood-clotting factors and synthesizes proteins, including one called albumin, which helps maintain blood volume. It also metabolizes fats, including fatty acids and cholesterol.
Additionally, the liver metabolizes and stores carbohydrates, which are used for the glucose that red blood cells and the brain use. It also aids in the intestinal absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. As if that weren’t enough, the liver also eliminates harmful biochemical bodily products and helps to detoxify the body.
Since proper liver function is so foundational for health, maybe that’s why fatty liver is currently the focus of intense research. After all, who wants to be a sitting duck?