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A Quick Cure for Fatty Liver

More than one third of North Americans will suffer from a fatty liver that can progress to liver inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Storing excess fat in your liver markedly increases your risk for diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, certain cancers and premature death. Restricting carbohydrates is more effective than cutting calories or limiting fat for individuals who want to reduce the amount of fat in their livers, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April, 2011). Eighteen participants with fatty livers ate either a low-carbohydrate or a low-calorie diet for 14 days. After two weeks, MRIs showed that those on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more liver fat.

How fatty liver causes disease:
Having a fatty liver
• blocks insulin receptors to prevent your cells from responding to insulin which causes
• a high rise in blood sugar which causes *your pancreas to release huge amounts of insulin which
• converts sugar to more triglycerides which
• fills up your liver with fat to cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver.

As this process continues, you develop
• excess fat in your body (obesity),
• high blood sugar (diabetes),
• high insulin and triglycerides levels (which cause heart attacks), and
• inflammation (that causes certain cancers and many other diseases).

How your body uses carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are sugars in singles, doubles, thousands and millions. Before any carbohydrate can get into your bloodstream, it must first be broken down into a single sugar. Of all sugars, only four (glucose, fructose, galactose and mannose) can pass from your intestines into your bloodstream leading only to your liver. Of the four sugars, only one, glucose, can pass from the liver into the general blood circulation. Galactose and mannose are quickly broken down in your liver and do not reach your general circulation. Fructose is converted to glycogen, the storage form of sugar in your liver. However, the liver can store only so much glycogen. As soon as all glycogen stores are full, most of the fructose is then converted to a type of fat called triglycerides. If large amounts of triglycerides accumulate in your liver, you develop a fatty liver.

How can you tell that you are taking in too much fructose?
• You start to store most of your fat in your belly.
• Your blood triglycerides, insulin and sugar start to rise.
• Your good HDL cholesterol goes down.

How can you tell that you have a fatty liver?
Your triglycerides will be higher than 150, your HBA1C (sugar stuck on cells) will be above 5.7, your C-peptide (which measures insulin your body produces) will be higher than 1.9 ng/mL or .62 nmol/L, your HDL cholesterol will be below 40, and a sonogram of your liver will show the fat destroying your liver. Your doctor now should tell you that you have metabolic syndrome and are headed for a premature death. If you don't like this prediction, you must:

• Avoid all sugared drinks (except during prolonged and intense exercise). Fruit juice and table sugar are just as damaging as the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in most commercially sugared drinks.

• Markedly restrict all foods made from flour (bakery products and pastas).

• Eat plenty of vegetables, berries, beans, nuts, and fish. Avoid meat, particularly cured meats or sausage (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March, 2011).

• Lose weight.

• Exercise (first check with your doctor because having a fatty liver markedly increases your chances of suffering a heart attack).

• Get your vitamin D3 level above 75 nmol/L (Diabetes Care, published online April 22, 2011).

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What is the latest research linking red meat to cancer?

Eating red meat is associated with at least 17 different cancers and very strongly linked to colon cancer. Ajit Varki, MD of the University of California, San Diego, has found a sugar-protein, called Neu5Gc, found in all mammals except humans. He has shown that humans who eat mammal meat make antibodies against this sugar-protein in the same way that they make antibodies to invading germs, and have their immunities turned on to cause inflammation. Constantly producing antibodies to Neu5Gc can lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause cancerous cells to develop and grow. He has also shown that Neu5Gc is found in tumors in meat-eating humans, and that the highest levels are found in metastasizing tumors (tumors that spread throughout the body and cause death).

Now Dr. Varki and his associates show that blood tests for human antibodies to Neu5Gc can be used to predict certain cancers, and that giving antibodies to Neu5Gc in very high concentrations suppresses tumor growth (Cancer Research, May 1, 2011). The researchers found that high doses of purified human anti-Neu5Gc antibodies can kill tumors containing Neu5Gc in mice and humans. These findings point to a dual response of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies that can either stimulate tumor growth at a low dose or suppress tumor growth at a high dose. This means that low doses of Neu5Gc antibodies stimulate cancer cells to grow, while high doses attack and kill the same cancer cells.

If other researchers confirm Dr. Varki's findings, he is a likely candidate for a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What should long distance runners and bicycle racers eat to help them recover faster?

During their recovery periods, they should eat huge amounts of foods loaded with protein and carbohydrates. Since the 1930s, athletes have known that they can recover faster from hard workouts by eating extra carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables, and whole grain bakery products and pastas. The carbohydrates refill their muscles with glycogen (stored sugar). Sugar requires less oxygen to fuel muscles during exercise than fat or protein. Anything that reduces oxygen requirements during exercise allows the athlete to move faster and stronger, and have greater endurance.

Recent research from the University of Birmingham in the UK shows that athletes can recover even faster if they also take in extra protein (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, April 2011). This is the first study to show that several days of high-protein feeding hastens recovery during several days of high-intensity training. It doesn't make any difference if they get their extra protein from dairy products, meat, fish, chicken, beans, seeds or nuts. The study showed that trained male cyclists could ride significantly faster time trials on their very intense days when they were given a diet with extra protein. The high- protein diet contained 3 g protein/kg/day) and the normal diet contained 1.5 g protein/kg/day.

All athletic training is done by stressing and recovering. The athlete takes one or more intense workouts, and then when he feels very sore, cuts back on the intensity of his workouts for a while. Anything that will help him recover faster will allow him to take his next series of intense workouts sooner and he will become stronger, faster, and have greater endurance. Previous research has shown that taking extra protein soon after finishing an intense workout can hasten recovery (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004;287 (4):E712-20). This is explained by the fact that a high carbohydrate load immediately after finishing the intense workout causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin which drive the extra protein (amino acids) into muscle cells so they heal faster (J Nutr. 2000;130(10):2508-13).

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Recipe of the Week:

Algerian Vegetable Casserole

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

May 1st, 2011
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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