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February 2024
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Study: Fast Food Eating Lifestyle Leads to Liver Damage

Fast Food Fast Food:  Bad For the Liver, Too    

We all know that fast food is bad for our body.  When eaten in excess, fast foods weigh down our bodies, clog our arteries, spike our blood pressures and increase our chances of getting diseases like Type II diabetes. 

Yet despite these troublesome truths, fast food joints remain profit goliaths, posting significant gains in their share prices so far this fiscal year—largely on the backs of their double stacked hamburgers and French fries. It may

be too much to expect, but perhaps the latest discovery of fast food’s toll on the human body will prove to be the industry’s swan song.

We don’t think too often of our livers—that boomerang-shaped organ that flanks our right side.  We should, though, because the liver is one of the most important organs in our bodies.  Its responsibilities are manifold, charged with tasks like producing bile, storing glycogen, detoxifying the body of harmful substances and assisting in the metabolizing of food and drink.  The liver is a one of a kind organ.  If it’s unable to function properly, severe disease is often the result.

With this in mind, the results of a Swedish study that looked into the effects of fast food on the liver is a real eye opener.

The testing process wasn’t too different from the test Morgan Spurlock administered on himself in Super Size Me, where he ate McDonald’s fast food every day for a month.  In the Swedish study, 18 thin male and female participants ate two fast food meals every day for four weeks.  Again, much like Spurlock, their daily caloric intake doubled the recommended 2700 calorie a day diet health conscious Americans adhere to.

After four weeks, fat and liver damage were observed in all 18 participants.  Their average weight gain was 16 pounds, but one man gained nearly 30 pounds—yes, in just one month!  Besides the participants’ increased blood pressure readings and belt sizes, the additional poundage put a significant strain on their livers, something doctors haven’t examined with any great detail until now.  According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Fredrik H. Nostrom, blood tests showed a greater chance of acquiring a variety of liver and cardiovascular diseases, just 30 days into their fast food regimens.  The study is published in the journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gut.

Though the liver is perhaps the most resilient of the body’s many organs—eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is enough to put the liver back on the “straight and narrow”— you can only imagine the kind of rigmarole the liver goes through for those who eat fast food on a regular basis (i.e. more than once a week).

In the same way that we as people can only do so many things at once, the liver can only do so much at once also.  Asking the liver to metabolize gobs and gobs of fat over an extended period of time puts a tremendous strain on an organ that has other things to do besides metabolizing fat.  Those that persist in these types of eating habits often get heart attacks and/or some type of cardiovascular disease.

No one wants hardworking Americans to lose their jobs at McDonald’s or Burger King.  However my advice is to completely abstain from fast food altogether as it offers no nutritional value. Let’s just hope that these companies will tweak their marketing strategies, ones where more healthful options are promoted on billboards and television commercials.  Our lives—and our livers—depend on it.

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