By Kennedy Shelley
You don’t even have to drink alcohol to get fatty liver. Scientists have known this for many years.
But while many suspected that it was because of carbohydrate-rich diets, scientists have isolated the bacteria that may be turning your insides into a virtual brewery.
It turns out that the gut bacterium Klebsiella pneumonia can raise a person’s blood-alcohol level in the absence of alcohol consumption.
Excessive fat in the liver is a dangerous condition.
Before Americans started reducing fat and eating higher carbohydrate diets it was almost exclusively a problem for people who drank too much.
It wasn’t until children started developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that doctors started believing patients who said they didn’t drink but still had the condition.
Roughly 10% of all kids have it today.
How big of a problem is this? Nearly 30-40% of Americans suffer from it, and most do not know it.
If the condition gets worse, it can turn into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which is the more severe form of the disorder.
This may lead to the need for a liver transplant, long term scarring, and liver cancer.
The journal Cell Metabolism recently published an article that suggests there is a specific bacterium in the gut that is causing the problem or at least a contributing factor.
Klebsiella pneumonia may be causing what they refer to as auto-brewery syndrome.
The gut literally ferments a carb-rich diet into alcohol. Even if you are not consuming alcohol.
This occurs when you have an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract.
The scientists started looking at the patients with NASH and discovered that Klebsiella pneumonia was present in high concentrations as well as the yeast.
61% of the people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease had the yeast and bacteria, as opposed to only 6.25% of people who do not.
The scientists gave the subjects sugar water and found that indeed their blood alcohol levels did go up.
Over 3.5 TIMES greater than someone without the bacteria.
This may be a new use of oral glucose tolerance tests. If your blood alcohol goes up after the sugary drink, then you will know just how much at risk you are for liver damage.
An oral glucose tolerance test is simply drinking a beverage that has the equivalent sugar of a typical soft drink.
In the early stages, nonalcoholic fatty liver is treatable but left alone it does cause problems.
This is going to be one of those areas that diet and lifestyle rather than drugs are going to be the best cure.
Anti-fungal drugs did not improve the patient’s symptoms.
This has been followed up with mice tests who were given the bacteria and they developed liver problems within weeks.
Within only eight weeks they had full-scale liver damage.
Unlike those who damage their liver by drinking, people with this bacterium really have no other control over the damage being done except to quit feeding the yeast and bacteria by getting rid of carbs in their diet.
Thankfully, you do not need carbohydrates in order to live, but knowing you have this bacterium may explain why you should eliminate them from your diet.