Dr Peter Brukner OAM

Is your liver ‘fat’?

2 mins read

Over one-third of Australians have fatty liver disease, or as it is more formally now known – Metabolic Associated Fatty Liver Disease (MAFLD).

But how is this possible? Where have we all gone wrong? First, we need to look at what fatty liver actually is.

What is fatty liver disease?

MAFLD is when the liver becomes filled with fatty deposits, and liver function can be impaired.

MAFLD is considered a precursor to type 2 diabetes and can be regarded as a pre-diabetes condition.

As Professor Roy Taylor, a diabetes expert from the UK, says, “Before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, there is a long silent scream from the liver”.

What can fatty liver disease do to the body?

As well as type 2 diabetes, MAFLD has also been linked to the development of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

The main cause is thought to be excessive fructose intake found in table sugar (which is made of half glucose and half fructose) and fruit. Soft drinks, in particular, contain large amounts of fructose.

Is it reversible?

A research paper published in JHEP Reports reports on a Swedish study in which subjects with fatty liver disease were treated for 12 weeks with either a low carb healthy fat diet (LCHF) or a 5:2 restricted-calorie diet and compared the results to a group who were given standard lifestyle advice.

The LCHF and 5:2 groups dramatically reduced the number of fatty deposits in their livers and lost significant amounts of weight (>7kg) in the 12 weeks.

The bottom line

This study reflects my personal experience. I had been diagnosed with fatty liver 10 years earlier, and the abnormalities had shown up in my regular two yearly blood tests ever since.

After switching to low carb for three months, my blood tests completely normalised, and there was no longer any evidence of fatty liver.

My blood levels have remained normal in the nine years since then, and I have continued my low carb eating pattern.

My fatty liver was evidence of pre-diabetes, and given my family history of type 2 diabetes, I do not doubt that had I not made the changes I did, then by now, I would have full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Thank goodness I dodged that bullet!

Source: Holmer M, Lindqvist C, Petersson S, Moshtaghi-Svensson J, Tillander V, Brismar TB, Hagström H, Stål P, Treatment of NAFLD with intermittent calorie restriction or low- carb high-fat diet – a randomized controlled trial, JHEP Reports (2021)

“My fatty liver has cleared up, and my legs no longer tingle at night. I feel rejuvenated!

“Now we don’t fall asleep in front of the TV; we have far more energy. I’m not about to go down the rabbit hole of the complications of diabetes - the amputations, the loss of eyesight. This program works. It’s so doable."

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