Back in February, a very small European study found that participants who limited exercise and ate two fast-food meals a day gained an average of 6.5 kg (14 pounds) and quadrupled their counts of a liver-damaging enzyme, alanine aminotransferase (ALT)—all within four weeks. The high fat and sugar content typically found in many fast foods was fingered as the culprit.
It’s enough to make you choke on your fries.
“There’s strong evidence now that a fast-food type of diet – high in fat and sugar – can cause significant damage to your liver and have extremely serious consequences for your health,” explains Dr. Brent Tetri, professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University Liver Center and a leading expert on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Which is on the rise, even among children and teens.)
Thankfully, most of us don’t eat two fast food meals a day. (And, of course, it’s not just fast food that contains high levels of fat and sugar.) What’s better, Tetri says in a recent announcement, is that the damage can be reversed. Here’s what he recommends:
1. Limit yourself to no more than one fast-food meal a week. Consider it a treat – not a regular event.
2. When you do eat fast food, eat as healthfully as possible. Try the burger without mayo and cheese, and avoid fries and sugary soft drinks. Better yet, go for a grilled chicken sandwich, a salad with a lower-fat dressing and bottled water or a diet soft drink.
3. Get active. If you don’t already exercise at least three times a week, start now. Regular exercise helps keep your weight down and helps your body better metabolize and process the food you eat.
4. Ask your doctor to do a blood test to check your level of liver enzymes, a key measure of the health of your liver. Many doctors now order test this routinely when doing blood work on adults, but kids who eat a lot of fast food especially need to have their liver enzymes checked.
“Even for those people with the worst kind of diets, it’s not too late to start exercising and eating right,” Tetri says.
Great news, but I will definitely getting my liver enzymes checked!!! What about you?