Whereas no one in our media-controlled world can still ignore the noxious effects of junk food on the cardiovascular system, fewer people know that our poor diet habits also endanger our liver. However, some 70 million Americans may suffer from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), also called NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
NASH is a fast-spreading disease in the Western hemisphere, and it is directly linked to diet imbalance, obesity (in 80% of cases) and overweight, and insulin resistance. The hypersecretion of insulin noticed in sugar lovers (the organism secretes more and more insulin to bring the blood sugar level back to normal) disturbs the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. This leads to an accumulation of fats (triglycerides) in the liver cells, called steatosis, and an increase of this organ’s volume. At this point, NASH can be diagnosed through palpation (to be corroborated by an ultrasound exam), and it is still a benign and reversible disease.
However, unless the patient makes changes in his lifestyle and diet, he incurs a degeneration of his hepatic cells along with their replacement by fibrous tissue – a process called fibrosis which in 15% cases, leads to cirrhosis or even cancer. Moreover, NASH and insulin resistance work together in a vicious circle that paves the way for prediabetes, and in time type 2 diabetes.