A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse
the New Silent Epidemic—Fatty Liver Disease
by Kristin Kirkpatrick and Ibrahim Hanouneh, MD
Foreword by Michael F. Roizen MD,
Chief Wellness Officer and chair
of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute
27.00 / 35.00
ISBN 13: 9780738219165
Da Capo Press
From the Introduction
A Healthy Liver Promotes a Healthy Life
Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.
—J. K. Rowling
If I asked you to pause for a moment to think about the organs that are vital to your survival, your heart, lungs, and brain would probably come to mind. That’s as it should be, because without these organs, you simply wouldn’t be alive. But there’s a key player missing from that essential list: the liver, which is often overlooked in importance, even though it is among the hardest working organs in our body. Many of us don’t have a clue where our liver is, let alone what it does. In a way, the liver is like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who frequently complained, “I don’t get no respect!” The liver generally doesn’t get the respect or attention it deserves until something goes wrong.
Yet the liver is also like the great and powerful Oz, in that it makes magic happen from behind the curtain. If you were to picture what happens in your body as a Hollywood movie, your heart and brain would be among the lead actors but the liver would be the director. It’s a silent player behind the scenes, but a powerful one that orchestrates a variety of critical body functions. Located on the right side of the upper abdomen, just below the diaphragm, the liver is one of the largest organs in the body (an adult liver weighs about 3 pounds). It performs more than three hundred tasks, including playing a role in such crucial metabolic processes as converting the nutrients in our diet into substances our body can use and store for energy and removingharmful substances from our blood.
While the liver is tough and resilient, the punishment of our modern lifestyle can wreak havoc on this precious organ—and we may not even realize it’s happening! Symptoms of liver disease may be subtle to nonexistent until the condition has reached a severe stage, by which point it may be too late to reverse it. Because mild liver dysfunction is often discovered incidentally through elevated liver enzyme levels on a blood test, and because it doesn’t cause alarming symptoms the way heart disease does, most of us don’t give a second thought to our liver’s well-being or give our liver the TLC it deserves. Many people think of liver disease as related to consuming too muchalcohol—but that’s only part of the story.
The reality is, a silent health crisis is under way, one that affects 30 percent of people in the United States. You may not have heard of it, but you could be among the potential victims. The crisis relates to a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which involves an accumulation of fat deposits (particularly triglycerides) in the liver tissue. Largely related to our nationwide obesity epidemic, it’s a disease that’s alarmingly on the rise; its prevalence has more than doubled since 1988. Yet, because NAFLD doesn’t produce symptoms in the early stages, it often goes undetected until it has progressed to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more serious condition that results in inflammation and, potentially, irreparable liver damage.
In recent decades, we have developed a collective lifestyle thatpromotes the development of obesity; this has created what’s often referred to as an obesogenic environment. This shift in diet and exercise habits, in particular, has given rise to the incidence of these devastating liver diseases. The exponential rise of NAFLD has paralleled the increase in obesity in the United States—and this is not a coincidence. Both surges stem primarily from an unhealthy lifestyle—too many calories consumed from food (and often the wrong foods) and too few calories expended through exercise. The result: Too much fat in our body, too much fat in our liver, and a serious threat to ourhealth and longevity.
It’s a dire picture, indeed, and many people are completely unaware of this looming danger.
With this book, we want to give you the gift of good health—a full understanding of the reasons your liver is so important, vital information you (and many other people) aren’t aware of, and concrete steps to help you be the healthiest you can be. Along the way, you’ll likely lose weight (if you have extra pounds to shed), have more energy, and make major strides in preventing other life-threatening diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more. It’s an opportunity that’s yours for the taking!