Excessive alcohol use can cause fat accumulation in the liver. Ultimately, This accumulation of fat may lead to liver failure that may actually prove fatal.
But it turns out, that there is another form of fat accumulation in the liver that has nothing to do with consumption of alcohol, hence the name non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFDL). NAFDL is considered the most common liver disorder in developed countries, estimated to be present in an incredible 30% of American adults.
NAFDL is often not a benign condition. It is strongly related to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. That means that people who have NAFDL are far more likely to develop things like type II diabetes and ultimately may even develop cirrhosis of the liver.
As you’re planning your New Year’s Resolutions, consider my list of suggestions for 2016:
- Exercise – Yes, you’ve heard it so many times before, but our understanding of what exercise does to enhance health is undergoing a revolution. While its been recognized for decades that aerobic exercise in particular is associated with risk reduction for various inflammatory and degenerative conditions, including type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain and even low libido, the breakthrough has been the discovery that aerobic exercise actually changes the expression of our DNA! These changes in gene expression turn on pathways that increase our body’s production of antioxidants while reducing inflammatory mediators and amping up detoxification pathways. Yes, it’s easier to take a pill or even a nutritional supplement, but the science supporting what and how exercise does its magic is really compelling. So moving forward, I’d like you to consider 20 minutes of aerobics, every day. Continue reading
If you’ve been following the microbiome story you are likely aware of the emerging literature that squarely places gut bacteria in a pivotal position as it relates to any number of physiological processes. From regulating the balance of the immune system to determining the level of inflammation that a person may experience, it is now becoming mainstream knowledge that our gut bacteria are poised to regulate our most critical, life-supportive processes.
In Brain Maker, and certainly on this blog, I have written extensively on the important role of the microbiome in terms of regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. As such, we would expect that environmental events that disrupt the gut ecology might have a causative role, or at least show correlation with type 2 diabetes.
Recall that several months ago I called attention to the interesting study from Israeli researchers in which changes to the gut bacteria brought on by exposure to artificial sweeteners were dramatically associated with increased risk for issues related to glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity, and, therefore, type II diabetes.
PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is becoming increasingly common. The syndrome is characterized by a multitude of factures, including irregular or total loss of menstrual periods, heavy periods, acne, increased facial hair, ovarian cysts and metabolic issues related to insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. It is the most common endocrine disorder of women in America, and affects an incredible 5% to 10% of women between ages 18-44.
Interestingly, as we move forward in our understanding of PCOS, it appears that, despite the name, ovarian cysts are certainly not required to make the diagnosis. That is to say that the cysts are a consequence of the underlying disease process, not the fundamental player.
What PCOS represents is primarily a metabolic disorder closely akin to type 2 diabetes in which the body becomes resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin.
By now, pretty much everyone is dialed in to the message that sugar threatens health. No doubt, this is a powerful and motivating bit of information for people to adopt dietary strategies that limit sugar exposure. Unfortunately, because of this information, we are seeing a surge in the consumption of artificially sweetened foods and beverages.
In this video, I explore the fallacy and misconception of the health benefits related to non-caloric artificial sweeteners. I explored the research that actually demonstrates a dramatic increase in risk for weight gain as well as type 2 diabetes in those individuals who favor the consumption of these foods and beverages. Continue reading
Modern medicine is clearly vested in what I like to call the Las Vegas mentality. We’ve all heard that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and it seems that, as it relates to medicine today, we still tend to look at illness as being uniquely related to the body system that is affected. For example, autism is thought to represent a brain disorder having to do with the development and functionality of that organ. This is despite the ever-increasing research that demonstrates significant gut abnormalities associated with this disorder. Further, a recent study has shown that giving children with asthma increased amounts of dietary fiber leads to significant improvement. This study clearly challenges the notion that asthma is specifically a lung related disorder.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder and has been described as the most common autoimmune condition in the United States. It is thought that as many as 7.5 million Americans suffer from this condition with more than 120 million people worldwide having this disease.
It’s now fairly common knowledge that for optimal health it makes sense to reduce the consumption of sugar. The idea that dietary sugars increase the risk for such things as hypertension and the development of health-threatening changes in lipid profiles is not new. But a commonly held perception seems to be that these health risks represent a direct consequence of the fact that increased dietary sugar consumption causes weight gain, and that the weight gain is specifically related to all the other health issues.
But in a new publication, researchers in New Zealand reviewed 39 studies that looked at diets in which sugar consumption was increased. Thirty-seven assessed lipid outcomes while 12 evaluated blood pressure.
Their results revealed that higher sugar consumption raised triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, low and high-density lipoprotein as well as both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Most people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages would be associated with an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). In fact, this association has been demonstrated in several well-respected studies. It would be hard to imagine that persistent exposure to such a high dose of refined sugar would not have consequences.
Even though consumers have become more aware of the association of sugar consumption with T2D (and weight gain as well for that matter), there has been a fairly dramatic increase in the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. To be sure, it’s not just the health risks associated with sugar that have catapulted sales of diet drinks. Manufacturers of these products have dedicated incredible sums in the promotion of these products capitalizing in the misguided belief that they represent a better choice when compared to sugar sweetened drinks. They don’t.
It seems self evident that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages would be associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). And in fact, this has been demonstrated in multiple studies. This is understandable when you consider what a powerful slug of fructose is delivered by each can or bottle of this stuff.
So it is that the term, “sugar free” is being exploited to death by soft drink manufacturers because of the mistaken public perception that choosing artificially sweetened drinks would be a healthier choice. It is a mistaken perception as now we’re seeing studies that have demonstrated that the risk for T2D is also dramatically increased in individuals who choose not to drink sugar sweetened beverages, but opt for those that contain artificial sweeteners.
In a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, French researchers evaluated more than 66,000 women over a 14 year period and found that those who favored sugar sweetened beverages did in fact have an increased risk of T2D, by about 34%. Incredibly, those choosing artificially sweetened drinks had a risk increase for T2D that was more than twice what that amount.
A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, evaluated the risk for cataracts in over 200,000 patients taking statin medications in comparison to over 1 million control subjects. The study concluded that the risk for developing cataracts was increased by 27% in those individuals taking a statin in medication for one year or more, stating:
This study demonstrates that statin use is significantly associated with cataract requiring surgical intervention.
Interestingly, the study was just reviewed by the online health news service, HealthDay. In their report they interviewed Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who indicated that cataracts are very common and are easy to deal with by having a “quick, painless and 99.9% successful” surgical procedure. He went on to say, “So, since you are going to get a cataract anyway, you might as well take your statin — it’s in your best interest.”