The One about Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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In life, there are times when you are thrown a curve ball and you just don’t know how to deal with certain situations.

A question I have been asked by friends is why I haven’t blogged as much recently and the truth is that I have not been in the best of health.

I would like to say that I have a high pain threshold, but within these last few weeks, I experienced pain (in my upper left area underneath my rib) that I thought was just indigestion or bloating.

I wasn’t sure if it was stress through work or what, but having gone through a good number of medical tests, my blood tests and ultrasound discovered a few things that will lead me to lifestyle changes, before it’s too late.

While there are a few things I don’t want to discuss, I will say that I found out that I have NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), which 70-80% of people in the US have and are probably unaware of it and also early-onset of diabetes.

I’m not going to make any excuses, I love to eat and throughout my life, I would go through phases of weight loss, weight gain, weight loss, weight gain and becoming consistent has been a problem.

When I arrived from Japan, I resorted to bad habits.  For one, I do not drink soda and for nearly ten or more years, I have avoided it 99% of the time.  But having dealt with things that made me tired and I had to keep myself awake, I resorted to caffeine and sugary drinks.  While not soda, I would drink Gatorade or Powerade and other artificially flavored drinks.  I also resorted to eating processed foods again, which I stayed away from.

In our lives, sometimes we are busy and we try to get something quick and easy to eat.  Some go the Hot Pockets route, some others go the fast food route and as I was doing well by staying away from those, I found myself going back.

And while I was not eating poorly daily and getting sick, such as what Morgan Spurlock experienced in his 2004 film “Super Size Me”, eating wrong things at such a short period of time and not exercising or drinking water affected me big time.

My blood sugar was double after fasting and that caused my doctor’s concern and there were other things that made him tell me straight up, you need to do something about this now and I took that as a sign that if I don’t make these changes now, it’ll be too late.

Why one should take care of their liver?

According to the American Liver Foundation:

The liver is the second largest organ in your body and is located under your rib cage on the right side. It weighs about three pounds and is shaped like a football that is flat on one side.

The liver performs many jobs in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

According to WebMD, symptoms of fatty liver are:

  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion, poor judgment, or trouble concentrating

You might have some other symptoms, too. Your liver may get larger.

One of the more helpful pages comes from Dr. Hyman, which you can get the low-down from his video:

But what Dr. Hyman has to say, was an eye-catcher for me:

The high fructose corn syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver. Soda, which, frighteningly, is the number one source of calories in the American diet, is, then, the biggest cause of fatty liver.

The bottom line is, if you eat a lot of sugar and flour, if you have a little bit of belly fat, or if you crave carbs, starch, and sugar, you probably have this.

So, I mentioned that there will be a major lifestyle change and that means not eating things that I’m used to eating.  I love eating tomato-based foods…I love ketchup, tomato paste, tomato sauce.  I love bread, pasta… But I will have to forego those and substitute it with something else.

And the Liverdoctor.com has wonderful information on what one should eat if they have a Fatty Liver but one should also start counting their calories, but also exercise.

The New York Times has a good article on Fatty Liver:

One of the first pieces of dietary advice that clinicians who treat fatty liver give to their patients is to eliminate sugary drinks from their diets. But doctors say that patients with the disease are typically consuming too many calories of all kinds, not just sugar.

Often, patients are told to avoid eating heavily processed foods, which are easy to consume in large quantities and usually stripped of their fiber and other naturally occurring nutrients. Preliminary studies have found so far that fatty liver patients respond well to the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fresh produce, nuts, olive oil, poultry and fish.

While I don’t like to discuss my personal life, I think in this case, if it helps someone to go out and get their annual checkup then I’m happy.  Go out and get a blood test to check your blood sugar and cholesterol, get a sonogram/ultrasound if they are a heavy alcohol, soda drinker or are experiencing unknown pains in their abdomen (stomach/intestines), to find out if you have any major problems with your internal organs, especially your liver.

But I’m going to do all that is necessary to make things better but also make better decisions of what I eat and drink.  I know it’s an uphill battle especially to change my lifestyle completely as I was a foodie, my friends are foodies but it’s all about living a long, healthy life and I need to make these lifestyle changes now.

So, if you start to see some health-related topics on my blog, don’t be alarmed.  I will still continue to post about fashion-related topics but I would like to share my journey with others, if it helps many people in the long run.

Dennis A. Amith