For 30% of you, this may end up as the single most important thing you read all year. For 80% of the population that is overweight, it definitely will be. I’m talking about a disease that can once it progresses becomes the 3rd most likely cause of death for you. A disease that can brutally destroy your liver without a drop of alcohol involved. I’m talking about Fatty Liver Disease, more specifically Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). It’s now the #1 cause of Hepatitis and liver transplants in this country. More than Alcohol or from Hepatitis C – and all appearing in the last 2 decades. NAFLD works you with a classic “one-two punch”. The “first hit” happens when excess fat that shouldn’t even be on your liver to begin with starts to enter the liver cells. Poor diet, little exercise, excess triglycerides and inability to process fructose are just a few reasons this fat builds up. These all make the cell vulnerable to the “second hit”. The deadly “second hit” works the cell from the inside out as the fat breaks down, oxidizes (free radical damage), increases inflammation and starts attacking mitochondria nearby – leading the cell to die and form scar tissue (fibrosis). Once fibrosis starts, the liver enters Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) where the outcomes start to dwindle. Around this point, cancer and heart disease become the only 2 things more likely to be on your death certificate. We’re talking death by hardcore liver cirrhosis here – one of the more truly gruesome ways to disincarnate from your living body, while you hopelessly wait for a liver transplant match. A disease where the end stages involve vomiting up massive amounts of blood and making an effort not to choke on it. Make no mistake about it, this is a legitimate public health crisis. In fact, it’s about time we start looking at Fatty Liver Disease as the hepatic (liver) branch of Diabetes (Insulin Resistance). It doesn’t just end with blood glucose though, your hormones play a key role too. If you are unbalanced in Testosterone or Estrogen your liver will not have the tools it needs to metabolize these liver fats, and properly use the cholesterol the liver needs to regulate your body’s hormones. The sad fact is that some of you that have this won’t show any risk factors. The good news is that a physical exam and a few laboratory results like AST, ALT, Triglycerides, LDL, HDL, Total Cholesterol, Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, GGT and a few others can put together a really great picture of whether you have Fatty Liver Disease for 95% of people. The even better news is that once discovered, NAFLD responds tremendously well to just a few weeks treatment of prescription-dose injectable or IV antioxidant therapy, metformin and therapeutic levels of vitamins. I’m going to repeat this again. This is the most common cause of liver disease in this country. 100 Million people will be affected by this. I didn’t want to write about this topic; however, the problem has become pervasive and statistically common enough for me to make sure you get this message. At CHEKD, we are seeing a disheartening amount of NAFLD appearing all over the country. If you are overweight, have low testosterone levels, high cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes or signs of pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) this is a non-negotiable screening. Let’s bring this to an even more basic understanding. To put it simply, your liver filters blood from your digestive track. The kidneys get all the credit but your liver is doing the real difficult work – detoxifying chemicals, metabolizing fats, producing hormones and making real energy. Why else would the liver be the only visceral organ that possesses the remarkable ability to regenerate? The liver can regrow with as little as 25% of the original amount remaining back to its full size. It’s clearly really, really important. A very large percentage of you are walking around with an impaired liver that is losing it’s ability to regenerate – and you don’t even know it. Now let’s put this on an animal level. Look at the animal world, it’s a competitive space. Predator and prey. What animal on earth would want to weaken itself, knowing there are predators everywhere and leave itself open to attack unless it was suicidal? Why would you continue to weaken the organ responsible for filtering the life-giving blood to the other organs? Why would you want to have the same type of liver as an alcoholic who’s been drinking for 40+ years? Why would you want someone drilling a huge needle into your liver just to get a biopsy? Take a second and just run the odds. If you’re overweight, can you honestly say you know your blood markers, risk factors and if you’re one of the “lucky” 20% who DON’T have NAFLD? I bet you don’t, because 99% of the people that find out they have it had no idea it even existed. Now you know. Act Accordingly.