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How Your Sweet Tooth Could Be Putting Your Health at Risk

Daniel Kim Views  

Many people are shocked when they are diagnosed with fatty liver after health check-ups, regardless of age or drinking habits. It’s not uncommon to see cases of young people who don’t drink alcohol being warned about fatty liver or already having accumulated fat in their liver.

While fatty liver disease was once considered a drinker’s disease, experts now view it as a modern disease. The disease, which occurs regardless of alcohol consumption, is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It’s not something to take lightly. If left untreated, NAFLD can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), liver fibrosis, and, in the worst cases, cirrhosis.

What factors, other than alcohol, increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease?

The first factor to check for fatty liver is dietary habits. If you prefer sweet foods or refined sugars, it may be necessary to question the condition of your liver.

Dr. Cho Min Young explains that sugar stresses the liver as much as alcohol because, like alcohol, sugar is processed in the liver. Sugar consists of glucose and fructose. Fructose, in particular, is metabolized in the liver and is hardly used in other tissues. If excessive amounts of fructose are consumed, the liver converts it into fat, which can lead to fat accumulation in the liver, causing fatty liver.

Furthermore, excessive consumption of refined sugars can increase neutral fat synthesis in the liver, resulting in fat accumulation within liver cells. Especially liquid fructose, unlike glucose, stays in the liver even when there is enough energy, acting as a direct cause of fatty liver. According to Cho, those who habitually add a lot of syrup to beverages and enjoy carbonated drinks, fruit juices, ice cream, and other snacks should reduce their consumption.

In the wake of the pandemic, there has been an increasing number of children and adolescents diagnosed with fatty liver. If your child is deeply addicted to sweets, keeping them away from sweet foods for their health would be best.

Cho explained that people with severe abdominal obesity should also be wary of fatty liver disease. The more visceral fat a person has, the higher their risk of developing NAFLD.

Abdominal obesity results from the accumulation of subcutaneous and visceral fat. Cho notes that visceral fat can accumulate fat within liver cells and induce inflammation in the liver, potentially exacerbating liver damage. This is why it’s crucial to address abdominal obesity, not just for appearance but also for health reasons.

Cho emphasized, “Patients with abdominal obesity are likely to have increased visceral fat, which can increase the amount of fat accumulated in the liver, leading to fatty liver. Even if you are not generally obese but have a protruding abdomen, you should be cautious.”

The good news is that fatty liver can be improved with aerobic exercise and diet management. NAFLD mainly occurs due to harmful dietary habits such as overeating or excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates. Maintaining proper nutritional and lifestyle habits can lead to recovery.

However, Cho emphasized that improving dietary and lifestyle habits is challenging. “If you’re struggling with management, it’s better to seek help from medical professionals instead of blaming yourself,” he advised. He also recommended regular health check-ups to understand your body’s condition better and take action before your health deteriorates.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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