Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects one in three adults and is considered one of the most common liver diseases in the United States. The condition causes abdominal swelling, severe fatigue, and pain. It can lead to chronic inflammation and cirrhosis if left untreated.
The liver maintains glucose homeostasis by ensuring that glucose is used in the most efficient way possible. This means that it will break down starch, releasing glucose and providing it to other cells in the body for use as a fuel for energy. It regulates the uptake and storage of glucose through glycogenesis, during which the liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen for short-term energy reserves. The liver also produces bile salts which help absorb and break down fats.
People with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease produce an abundance of fat in their liver through the process of de novo lipogenesis. This occurs when you consume foods with an abundance of glucose from white carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice, and flour.
The liver breaks down fructose as well. In fact, the liver is the only organ that is capable of processing fructose. When people consume unnatural fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup, the liver will store it as new fat. This is because high fructose corn syrup is a processed form of fructose that the liver cannot break down properly. Ideally, this new fat should be excreted by the body but this does not happen in individuals whose diet is unhealthy. Instead, the extra fat accumulates in the liver cells, leading to fatty liver disease.
The link between fatty liver disease, obesity, and diabetes
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can occur in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely linked to developing fatty liver disease. Up to 70% of obese and diabetic patients have been diagnosed with the disease. This is due to the failure of their bodies to properly balance glucose and lipid synthesis in the liver, resulting in high blood sugar and elevated levels of fat.
Members Only Content
To continue reading please subscribe to WellnessPlus by Dr. Jess MD
Be your own best doctor with our comprehensive suite of online health coaching tools.