YOU MAY THINK YOU’RE HURTING YOUR LIVER BY CHOOSING A SUGAR SODA OVER ALCOHOL EVERY DAY.
But drinking it every day can be harmful to your liver – just as harmful as alcohol.
After reaching the liver, the sugar in the drink turns into fat, which is stored in the liver cells. Over time, this can lead to fatty liver disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to severe scarring known as cirrhosis. And it can be life-threatening.
This surprises many people – they never or rarely drink alcohol, but they have cirrhosis.
After 5-7 years, even one sugary drink a day increases the risk of liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, and colon, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer.
How bad are sugary drinks for your liver?
A recent study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that drinking one or more sugar-sweetened beverages every day for five to seven years can lead to liver disease. When I tell my patients this, they are often surprised.
How does drinking sugary drinks affect the liver?
When you drink sugary drinks, the sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in the drink turns into fat in the liver. This puts stress on your liver cells and affects your ability to filter toxins from your body. The more fat that accumulates in your liver, the more prone you are to fatty liver disease and cirrhosis, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, exercise can help reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.
How common is fatty liver disease?
We see many patients with fatty liver disease, often due to a lifestyle that includes sugary drinks.
Fatty liver disease is prevalent. Alcohol-induced cirrhosis is the most common cause of liver transplantation in the United States, while fatty liver disease is the second most common cause of liver transplantation in the United States due to rising obesity rates.
Over the past 20 years, liver transplants for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-related cirrhosis have increased from 5.3% to 23%. That’s a pretty big increase.
How often can you drink sugary drinks without harming your liver?
If you drink a sweet drink once a week, it will have a good effect on the liver. Diet drinks are fine, but water is the best choice. Your body is 70% water, so it’s important to drink plenty of water.
What are the symptoms of liver failure?
Symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, and lack of energy mean something is wrong with your liver. You may also have pain in your liver and right side under your ribs. Over time, your skin and the whites of your eyes may turn yellow.
If you get liver disease, are you sick forever?
Fatty liver disease is reversible and treatable. It requires lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity, healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss. There are also several trials in Ohio looking at the benefits of certain medications for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.