Leviticus 3:17

Viewing the 1769 King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Leviticus 3:17

It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.

Fatty Foods & Liver Disease
Photo Credit Fast Food Picnic Lunch image by Karin Lau from
The liver is your body's chemical factory. One of the largest organs in your body, it converts your food into fuel, stores vitamins, assists digestion, metabolizes medications and kills germs. Your liver can also fall prey to more than 100 different diseases, including a group of disorders known as fatty liver disease. Scientists don't know for sure, but a diet high in fat may increase your risk of fatty liver disease. Paradoxically, although many obese people have fatty livers, some don't. And some people who are not overweight and don't drink too much alcohol still go on to develop fatty liver disease. The answer may lie in how your liver processes all the foods you eat with all its other functions.


Fatty liver is becoming more common in Americans, especially in children. Up to 20 percent of Americans have some form of a fatty liver condition, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Science Daily" reports that 25 to 50 percent of overweight children might have fatty livers. One in every three children is overweight or obese, and more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. These statistics lead many public health officials to speculate that fatty liver is a silently growing epidemic like diabetes and obesity.


Fatty liver is a buildup of fat in your liver's cells. Fatty livers can progress from scarring to cirrhosis to a liver that is so hardened that it doesn't work at all. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is having extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. NAFLD is diagnosed when those fat cells make up 5 to 10 percent of your liver's weight. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is a progression of NAFLD that resembles alcoholic liver disease, but happens to people who drink little or no alcohol. NASH patients have liver inflammation and damage. Alcoholic liver disease is a range of disorders caused by excessive drinking and can cause features like NAFLD and NASH but also malnutrition, hepatitis and cirrhosis.


NAFLD and NASH tend to develop in people who are overweight or obese and those who have high cholesterol or diabetes. However, many people also develop fatty livers even if they don't have any of these risk factors. Scientists don't know what causes fatty liver diseases; it's not as simple as saying eating too much fat causes fatty liver disease. Until the mid-2000s, research focused on factors like insulin resistance, the release of toxins by certain kinds of fat cells and the deterioration of cells inside your liver.


More recent research has found evidence linking what you eat to the growth of fat in your liver. For example, in the November 2, 2004 online publication of "The FASEB Journal," researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported on a study in which obese and lean rats were fed either a low-fat, 12 percent, or high-fat, 60 percent, diet for eight weeks. Fatty liver and symptoms of diabetes developed in the obese rats. They also developed the hallmarks of NASH. They and other researchers conclude there may be a problem in the way some people's liver metabolize fatty acids and triglycerides that leads to the accumulation of fat in the liver. In addition, researchers suggest that eating a diet high in saturated fat, thus having more cholesterol, may accelerate fatty liver disease to the next stage. "Science Daily" also reports that a diet of fast-digesting carbs, like white bread, breakfast cereals and sweet treats, led to fatty liver, but not weight gain, in another rodent experiment.


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