Yet for those who overdo it with too many trips to their favorite burger joint, there’s good news. You can likely reverse the damage to your liver and other vital organs if you simply give up the unhealthy lifestyle, according to a leading liver specialist at Saint Louis University who conducted a similar study with mice.
“There’s strong evidence now that a fast-food type of diet – high in fat and sugar, the kind of diet many Americans subsist on – can cause significant damage to your liver and have extremely serious consequences for your health,” says Brent Tetri, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University Liver Center and one of the country’s leading experts on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease....
Particularly alarming, says Tetri, is that physicians are starting to see children and teenagers with cirrhosis, a serious liver disease once seen mostly in adults with a history of alcohol abuse or hepatitis C. Tetri suspects this is because many kids today eat far too much fast food or junk food and get far too little exercise – the kind of behaviors that can lead to liver damage.
For adults and children who’ve repeatedly indulged in fast food, Tetri urges four key steps to help reverse the damage they’ve done to their liver.
- 1. Limit yourself to no more than one fast-food meal a week. For some people, that’s going to be a major downshift. But for the sake of your health, a visit to a fast-food restaurant should be considered 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.