ALERT: Fast Food and Decreased Exercise for a Month May Spell Destruction for your Liver.
Just 30 days of eating fast food combined with minimal exercise (walking less than 5000 steps in a day, the average person takes between 5000-7000 steps per day) is all it takes to impair liver function. The Liver is the “Master Chemist” of your body. Scientists reported this disturbing information in a study published in Gut, a peer review journal for health professionals and researchers in gastroenterology and hepatology. This information comes at a time when we are all a little strapped for money and fast food is convenient and inexpensive. To those of us in the healthcare and especially nutrition industry, this information comes as no surprise. I personally have seen a few cases of NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis); in the past, this liver condition was only seen in alcoholics.
In the study, the researchers took 18 healthy people (12 men, 6 women; known as the intervention group) and a matched control group (individuals who did not eat fast food and who walked more than 5000 steps per day). The subjects in the intervention group ate at least two meals at popular fast food restaurants each day and restricted their physical activity to not more than 5000 steps per day. Their mission was to increase their body weight by 5 – 15% by doubling their normal daily caloric intake and adopting a sedentary lifestyle for four weeks.
In order to monitor liver function, blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study and at regular intervals thereafter. One way to identify liver damage is to measure alanine aminotransferase (ALT), an enzyme in the liver. After only a single week on the fast food diet, ALT levels in the intervention group began to climb. ALT is not the only blood chemistry marker for liver function but it is the most specific in a baseline blood chemistry panel.
By the end of the four weeks, seventeen of the eighteen subjects had met their goal of increasing their body weight by 5 – 15%, with 5 of the eighteen subjects reaching the 15% mark. Thirteen of the study participants developed pathological ALT, which was evident in most subjects after the first week. Those in the control group did not experience any such increases.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that a sedentary lifestyle of fast food gluttony will rapidly lead to ill health. According to a Saint Louis University press release, it may be possible to reverse liver damage caused by such a lifestyle. The way to undo the damage to the liver and other vital organs is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and stop eating fast foods.
Brent Tetri, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University Liver Center and expert on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, conducted a similar experiment using mice. “There’s strong evidence now that a fast-food type of diet — high in fat and sugar, the kind of diet many Americans subsist on — can cause significant damage to your liver and have extremely serious consequences for your health,” he explains. “The good news,” he continues, “is that most people can undo this damage if they change their diet and they keep physically active. If they don’t, however, they are asking for trouble.”
In the study conducted by Dr. Tetri, mice were given a diet that was 40% fat and loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener commonly found in sodas, juices, and bottled sauces and dressings. The mice were also kept sedentary, emulating the lifestyle of many Americans. After four weeks, the mice displayed an increase in liver enzymes and the onset of glucose intolerance, known to be a marker for type II diabetes.
Dr. Tetri points out that while not all fast food necessarily causes liver damage, the problem is a diet containing too many calories with too much fat and sugar (typical in fast food meals consisting of burgers, fries and sodas). Tetri adds, “The fact we’re starting to see kids with liver disease should really be a wake-up call for anyone eating a diet high in fat and sugar and who’s not physically active.” He offers some encouragement to fast food junkies: “Even for those people with the worst kind of diets, it’s not too late to start exercising and eating right.”
If you’d like to have a very comprehensive blood chemistry panel run and evaluated using both the laboratory reference ranges and my optimal health reference ranges, or if you’d like more information on the 10,000 steps movement, call 503-866-9739 to schedule an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours In Health,Dr. Tim Irving DC, LMT, NutritionistOptimum Function819 SE Morrison St. Suite 230Portland, Oregon, 97214www.OptFunction.comwww.FunctionalDetox.comwww.YourOptimumNutrition.com