These days, it’s little secret that eating sugar in the quantities we often do can be really tough on our bodies.
One important organ that isn’t super happy with a sugar binge is our liver. Here’s why.
The liver: nature’s detox spa
The liver’s main job is to filter all the stuff our blood picks up in our digestive tract and sort it into stuff the rest of our body can use.
This includes packaging up the good stuff like macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. And weeding out not-so-good stuff like alcohol and toxins.
Think of your liver as your own little detoxing spa, working away to keep your body happy and healthy, no juice cleanse required!
The liver is made to break down small amounts sugar
As the body’s master detoxer, the liver can handle small amounts of sugar coming from, say, whole fruits and veggies. It mainly breaks these down into glucose for our cells to use as energy.
Any extra glucose gets stored in the liver as glycogen or, with a little help from the hormone insulin, converted and stored as fat in various parts of the body, including the liver itself.
Too much of a sweet thing
The major issue arises when we consume sugar in large quantities. The amounts of sugar found in many ultra-processed foods, packaged cakes, chocolates, and ice creams, is simply too much for our liver to handle all at once.
Too much sweet stuff on a regular basis causes a fatty build-up in our liver. This can lead to something fun called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Over time, this can cause inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, which, given the liver’s role in keeping us toxin-free, can be super dangerous.
Scientists now reckon sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight.
The good news?
Thankfully, the liver is also GREAT at regenerating itself. In most cases, a few tweaks to our diet (hint: laying off the sweet stuff!), plus regular exercise, will reverse any damage done.