Imagine beer brewing inside your gut (SMELLY!)
The most common liver disease is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) where a person is unable to efficiently burn fat and instead stores excess amounts of fat in various organs, such as the liver. As too much fat builds up in the liver, it begins to constrict the liver’s ability to function properly and causes excess inflammation which can eventually lead to permanent liver damage and cancer.
Studies from Yuan and his colleagues out of China have found these individuals have high percentage of certain types of bacteria (i.e., Klebsiella pneumoniae) inside of their gut which tend to convert starch into alcohol (i.e., similar appearing to beer and wine) and not into usable energy. With continued consumption of excess starch, the blood alcohol levels can become dangerously too high.
Along with causing fatty liver disease, excess starch consumption (such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice) along with animal protein (i.e., fish, dairy products, poultry, fish, red meat, eggs) can cause other hallmark diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. All of these conditions are linked to an imbalanced gut microbiome where there is overfeeding of bad versus good bacteria which inhibit proper cell function.
The scope of this problem is huge in the United States where 30-40% of adults in the United States have fatty liver disease (NIDDKD, 2016). As of 2018, 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5% of the population, had diabetes of which 7.3 million of them weren’t even aware of their diagnosis. It is heavily linked to the Standard American diet and other lifestyle factors which continues to exponentially increase the risk of overgrowing unhealthy bacteria inside a person’s gut and increasing their risk of significant chronic diseases. Getting rid of these bacteria via antibiotics is not the solution since it will only make matters worse. The thing's for certain is changing a person’s eating habits can make a huge difference. Have more fresh nutrient-dense foods rich in lots of vegetables as one of the main staples.
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“Definition & Facts of NAFLD & NASH.” (2016). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD). Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash/definition-facts
Yuan, J., Chen, C., Cui, J., Lu, J., Yan, C., Wei, X., ... & Cheng, W. (2019). Fatty liver disease caused by high-alcohol-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae. Cell metabolism, 30(4), 675-688.