How Does Sugar and Diet Affect The Liver?
Last updated: November 2020
Sugar consumption and diet have a big impact on your liver; They can help or harm your liver condition. If you have hepatitis C, you are at greater risk of developing diabetes and fatty liver disease. Being mindful and active with proactive dietary choices can help your liver to function better and to fight hepatitis C.
How does sugar affect your liver
Your liver can be damaged in many ways, from a viral infection such as hepatitis C, drinking too much alcohol, or from consuming too much sugar. One of the many functions of the liver is to break down sugar (glucose) to be used in your body. The liver converts glucose into glycogen, a certain amount is stored in the liver, the other is distributed into the body for use.
Dr. Lee Austin M.D., a gastroenterologist with Sanford Health states:1
“Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose and both are metabolized in the liver. When too much sugar is consumed, the liver converts it to a lipid; overproduction of the lipid causes the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) to shut down. SHBG regulates the hormones testosterone and estrogen available throughout the body, so when there is less SHBG, there is more testosterone and estrogen circulating. Increased testosterone and estrogen cause an increase in acne, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and uterine cancer in overweight women. It can also increase in cardiovascular disease, especially in women. Consumptions of large amounts of sugar has also been shown to cause fatty liver disease in children.”
In short, when the body does not use up the increased amount of sugar, it goes into fat storage. With fat increase, this adds a high risk for fatty liver disease, which compromises liver function and makes it harder for the body to fight hepatitis C.
Carbohydrates in our diet
All food and beverages you consume are broken down on a cellular level. Most of the foods we eat have carbohydrates, which are categorized as simple or complex. Carbohydrates are made up of fiber, starch, and sugar. Simple carbohydrates, for example, are made of large amounts of sugar.
Carbohydrates play an important part in our diet. When the right balance of carbohydrates is consumed, they benefit our body, but many processed foods and beverages are high in simple carbohydrates which contribute to excess calories and increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and liver damage.
How to control sugar consumption
Read the food ingredient list on food and beverages. The items listed in the first order have the greater amounts included in this food or beverage. Learn the many names of sugars; There are over 50 different names for sugar, and sugar alcohol! Some of the most common are sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup and more.
Look for foods that have no sugar added. The best way to consume what is healthy for your liver is to avoid all processed foods and beverages. Eat a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and nuts. Be proactive with what you eat and drink. Help your body help your liver.