It starts with the Halloween candy that you “get for the kids,” but then end up nibbling on yourself for most of October. Then there’s the pumpkin pie and candied yams that keep showing up all through November. Followed by the Christmas cookies and endless treats all December long.
For over three months, stretching from Halloween through New Year’s, many of us can’t say no to the 24/7 sugar fest.
But it turns out all that holiday snacking could be doing far more than just adding a few pounds to the scale.
Holiday killer causes deadly liver damage
A new study has revealed all that extra sugar could be doing hidden, but devastating, damage to your liver. Because experts say a diet that’s high in added sugars doesn’t just make you fat, it makes your liver fat too.1
And that can trigger fatty liver disease.
This sometimes deadly condition was once only associated with alcoholics. But our sugar-obsession has caused cases to skyrocket. In fact, it’s so common now it even has its own name, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD.
Experts now believe that excess fructose, one of the most common types of added sugar in our diets, may be as damaging as excess alcohol.2,3
And according to researchers even a short period of overindulging in the sweet stuff—like the holiday season—could be putting you in danger. And it could lead to liver damage.
Liver damage triggered by a diet high in sugar
For the new randomized controlled study, published in the journal Clinical Science, the researchers divided male volunteers into two groups. Each group followed a diet with a different amount of sugar for three months.
- High-sugar diet: 650 calories of sugar daily
- Low-sugar diet: 140 calories (or less) of sugar daily
At the end of the study, the guys who had eaten the most sugar, 650 calories of the stuff a day, also had the most fat smothering their livers. And that was true even if they didn’t have a single sign of a chubby liver before starting the diet.
In other words, even the men who began with lean livers had fatty ones by the end.
Now you’re probably wondering what sugar has to do with fat, am I right? After all the guys weren’t eating a high fat diet.
Well it turns out chowing down on SUGAR dramatically raises the FAT levels in your body. When you eat a lot of fructose, your liver works hard to process it, converting it into fat. And that can cause a domino effect which ultimately leads to a fatty liver and liver damage.
(And when your liver can’t hold anymore, it releases the extra fat into your bloodstream, which is why we’re always warning folks to avoid falling for the low fat lie.)
The first step in protecting your liver is obvious. Cut back on the added sugars in your diet. And as we head into the holiday season and the candy, pies and cookies begin to parade past practice saying no thanks.
3 simple steps to support your liver and avoid liver damage
Following are three more easy ways you can protect your liver to keep it in tip top shape.
1. Embrace your coffee habit:
If you’re already a coffee fan, you’re going to love this tip. It turns out your favorite cup of Joe could be helping keep your liver healthy.
Coffee is swimming in healthy antioxidants. Experts say it can help naturally detoxify your liver and reduce liver inflammation. And researchers have uncovered a link between drinking coffee and a lower incidence of liver disease.4
In fact, sipping on three cups of java a day, can slash abnormal livery enzymes by 25 percent.5 And you’ll be protecting yourself against liver cancer at the same time, according to the Liver Cancer Pooling Project, which has gathered and analyzed data from well over one million individuals.6
But don’t reverse the good your coffee habit is doing for your liver by dumping inflammation-promoting sugars and syrups into your brew. Drink it black, or with a splash of cream instead.
2. Pop some milk thistle:
Traditional medicine practitioners use milk thistle to detoxify the liver and treat liver problems. And science confirms that this oddly named herb could be your liver’s best friend.
The active ingredient in milk thistle is a potent antioxidant called silymarin. Experts say silymarin, a natural anti-inflammatory, is the key to the herb’s liver protecting powers. And research confirms it supports healthy liver function and metabolism.7,8
When fat begins to build up around your liver, it triggers inflammatory cytokines. But milk thistle helps suppress their release, allowing the liver to generate new healthy cells and heal from liver damage.
3. Eat more olive oil:
If you’ve been following our advice, you’re already eating more olive oil. And that’s great, since you can add liver support to this oil’s already impressive resume. Because antioxidant rich olive oil could help protect your liver against the oxidative stress and damage caused by toxins.9
Researchers fed lab rat an olive-oil rich diet and then exposed them to a toxic herbicide. The herbicide normally depletes the body of antioxidants and triggers oxidative damage to the liver.
But the rats which ate the olive-oil laced chow had significantly higher antioxidant enzyme activity. And they had far fewer signs of liver damage than the unlucky rodents which didn’t get the oil.
While we need more research, experts say there’s every reason to believe that olive oil can help protect human livers too. And since this delicious oil has so many other known benefits, making it a part of your regular diet is a good idea anyway.
Ditch the sugar and start taking steps to support your liver and prevent liver damage starting today!
1. “Impact of liver fat on the differential partitioning of hepatic triacylglycerol into VLDL subclasses on high and low sugar diets,” Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Sep 18. pii: CS20171208
2. “CYP2E1 and oxidant stress in alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Journal of Hepatology , 58(2), 395-398
3. “Public health: The toxic truth about sugar,” Nature, 482, 27–29, (02 February 2012)
4. “Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis,” Hepatology. 2010 Jan; 51(1): 201–209
5. “Unexpected effects of coffee consumption on liver enzyme,” Eur J Epidemiol. 1993 May;9(3):293-7
6. “Coffee consumption and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma by sex: The Liver Cancer Pooling Project, ” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Sep;24(9):1398-406
7. “Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects of silymarin on hepatic dysfunction induced by sodium nitrite,” Eur Cytokine Netw. 2013 Jul-Sep;24(3):114-21
8. “Anti-inflammatory/anti-fibrotic effects of the hepatoprotective silymarin and the schistosomicide praziquantel against Schistosoma mansoni-induced liver fibrosis,” Parasites & Vectors 20125:9
9. “Effects of olive oil and its fractions on oxidative stress and the liver’s fatty acid composition in 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid-treated rats,” Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Oct 29;7:80