Is Your Liver Too Fat?
There’s an old saying, “Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.” Well, when it comes to body fat, something similar might be said. Fat isn’t just “skin deep”, it goes clear to the organs—and not just to the heart and its vessels, but to the liver as well.
You likely don’t think about your liver or it’s condition much, but if you’ve been significantly overweight for a while, you really should stop to consider that fact that you may be well on your way to developing a condition known as fatty liver disease*.
The liver is your body’s filter, the more of it that is replaced by fat, the less effective it is at its job of removing toxins (poisons) from your body. If just 5-10% of your liver’s mass is replaced by fat, you are in serious trouble. Fatty liver disease can lead to scar tissue formation and ultimately to liver cancer and liver failure (i.e. death).
Fatty liver disease is most typically seen in people who abuse alcohol or have a history of hepatitis-C, but because of the national obesity trend doctors are diagnosing this disease with escalating frequency in the “average” population—most often when people are in the 40’s or 50’s.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 71% of adults in the US over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese. Let’s just pause a moment to allow the ‘weight’ of that information to sink in…stunning, right?
Ten years ago I received a phone call from a (very shaken) friend had just been diagnosed with fatty liver disease. She was just 42 years old at the time. How was it, she asked me, that her liver could be diseased at such a young age. When I asked her how long she had been overweight, she told me she was heavy most all her life. I think she answered her own question.
Friend, if you are serious about avoiding fatty liver disease, or if you’ve already been diagnosed with it and want to reverse some of the damage, I offer you two suggestions. They are simple to read, but difficult to act upon, I understand.
- If you drink too much, please, show love to your liver by stopping.
- If you are more than 15-20 pounds overweight, set a goal to lose 10% of your body weight. The less you weigh, the “slimmer” your liver will be.
*Fatty liver disease is often silent. You must have your liver enzyme levels checked annually.