By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
May 23, 2016
- Alcohol isn’t the #1 cause of liver disease
- A fatter belly leads to a fatter liver
- 15-minutes to a healthier liver and a skinnier you
On a day-to-day basis, you probably don’t think much about your liver… especially if you aren’t a drinker. But what if I told that, these days, the largest percentage of liver disease today isn’t associated with alcohol use at all?
The truth is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) accounts for a whopping three-quarter of all liver disease here in the U.S. It’s so prevalent that some experts are even calling it a pandemic. And for good reason.
About one of every three Americans has it. But it’s a silent disease. So if you have NAFLD you may not even know it until serious problems arise.
This isn’t something to be taken lightly.This is one of those chronic degenerative diseases that we talk about so often.
When your liver can’t break down fats, they start building up in your liver tissue. Over time, this can trigger inflammation, scarring of the liver and cirrhosis. It could even lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
Plus, it’s an early warning sign that places you squarely at risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Now, about 30 or 40 years ago, only a tiny percentage of liver disease was associated with NAFLD.
So the big question is this: What changed between then and now?
Fatter Bellies Lead to Fatter Livers
The explosion in NAFLD isn’t the only thing that has changed in the past three decades. During this time, there’s also been a steep rise in something called “visceral obesity”…also known as visceral adipose tissue.
Simply put, this is the accumulation of fat in and around your abdominal area. But it doesn’t just add inches to your waistline. It also takes up space between your internal organs.
You might call it belly fat, your spare tire or your muffin top. But no matter what name you give it, this type of fat is very strongly linked to the development of fatty liver. (It also increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.)
Over the same time period, our lifestyle habits have changed considerably.
Today our food supply is loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugar, too much salt and all sorts of processed foods that play a crucial role in the development of visceral fat.
And make no mistake about it. The foods we eat today aren’t anything like the ones nature intended.
These days, grains that sound healthy are scientifically engineered in a way that makes them toxic. GMO foods are loaded with poisonous glyphosates that disrupt the hormones that tell your body how to store fat.
It’s all a big mess. And it creates the perfect storm for central obesity and fatty liver.
At the same time, there is no medical cure for NAFLD!
That’s right. Once you develop it, there is no pill for this ill and no special procedure to fix you up.
However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to get rid of all of the fat that’s clogging up your liver.
Slash Belly Fat to Save Your Liver
You already know that eating a naturally healthy Mediterranean style diet will go a long way to help you lose weight and protect your health. And I heartily recommend it.
But in addition to eating a proper diet, there’s one more thing you can do to slash the amount of fat in both your abdomen and your liver. It also comes with plenty of extra health benefits, like reducing blood sugar and improving cardiovascular function.
What’s this secret?
It’s something call high intensity interval training (HIIT).
This is actually my preferred form of exercise. It involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say your mode of exercise is a bicycle, stationary or otherwise.
Take about five minutes to warm up. Just start off pedaling lightly and progress to a slightly hard pedal.
After warming up, pedal very hard for 30 seconds. Then slow back down to a light pedal for two or three minutes during your recovery period. Repeat for a total of five times.
Do this three times a week. But as you progress, pedal harder and harder during those bursts of intensity. At the same time, try to bring your recovery time down by a minute or two.
By the end 12 weeks, this would take your bursts of intensity up to maximum capacity… and your recovery time down to less than two minutes.
You can apply this same concept to other exercises, like walk/sprint, row/fast row and swim/fast swim.
Your body – including your liver and all of your other organs – crave this type of activity. Don’t deprive them of what they need to survive in today’s world. If for some reason you cannot do this level or type of movement… and can walk, then get out there and do so, briskly for 20 minutes or so daily if you can.
Younossi ZM, et al. Changes in the prevalence of the most common causes of chronic liver diseases in the United States from 1988 to 2008. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Jun;9(6):524-530.
Anstee QM, et al. Progression of NAFLD to diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease or cirrhosis. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jun;10(6):330-44.
Cassidy S, et al. High intensity intermittent exercise improves cardiac structure and function and reduces liver fat in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia. 2016 Jan;59(1):56-66.