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The Other Consequence of High Blood Sugar

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High blood sugar levels are commonly known to be associated with a series of dangerous health conditions, including increased risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, vision impairment, nerve damage, bone and joint deterioration, and even tooth and gum infections. However, recent research has linked hyperglycemia with another serious disease, one which has grown to afflict approximately 25% of the global population despite minimal press coverage – fatty liver disease.

Also known as NAFLD, fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat accumulates inside the liver. In its early stages, fatty liver disease typically does not manifest with any noticeable symptoms. However, when left untreated, NAFLD can result in inflammation and a buildup of scar tissue inside the liver that negatively impacts its ability to perform its essential functions. The liver has more than 500 vital roles, from producing essential nutrients and resisting infection to filtering the blood and regulating blood clotting. But perhaps its most important responsibility of all is to maintain balanced blood glucose levels, and any impairment to healthy liver tissue can significantly restrict this function.

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At the same time, high blood sugar levels have been shown to directly contribute to the development and progression of fatty liver disease. Normally, your liver stores glucose from the food you consume to provide energy when needed, much like charging a battery. However, when blood sugar levels are persistently high, the body converts excess sugar into fat, which is often stored inside the liver. In fact, a recent study found that for every 1 percentage point increase in A1C level, the risk of severe liver fibrosis rose by 15% in the following year.

For this reason, protecting the liver from harmful inflammation is a primary reason to seek to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Consider talking with your doctor about formulating a diet and exercise regime and setting realistic goals for improving your digestive health from all possible angles.

Jennifer

Jennifer recently retired from her career as a Certified Manual Physical Therapist to spend more time with her family. When she isn't writing about natural medicine, she enjoys practicing yoga, rock climbing, and running marathons.

References

  1. Dharmalingam M, Yamasandhi PG. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2018 May-Jun;22(3):421-428. doi: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_585_17. PMID: 30090738; PMCID: PMC6063173.
  2. Xia MF, Bian H, Gao X. NAFLD and Diabetes: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Rationale for Gene-Based Personalized NAFLD Treatment. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Aug 6;10:877. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00877. PMID: 31447675; PMCID: PMC6691129.
  3. Lee YH, Cho Y, Lee BW, Park CY, Lee DH, Cha BS, Rhee EJ. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Diabetes. Part I: Epidemiology and Diagnosis. Diabetes Metab J. 2019 Feb;43(1):31-45. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2019.0011. Erratum in: Diabetes Metab J. 2019 Oct;43(5):731. PMID: 30793550; PMCID: PMC6387876.