University of California researchers ID the sneaky food additive that causes liver slowdowns for 80 percent of women over 45 —and the delicious solution that heals the hardworking organ to melt fat fast and forever!
What causes fatty liver?
Picture the worst traffic jam you’ve ever been in: Horns honking, cars barely creeping along. Suddenly, up ahead, there’s a rest area with restaurants and bathrooms. Lots of cars pull off to take a break or wait out the traffic instead of continuing along the highway. This is what’s happening at mealtime in the livers of more than 80 percent of women over 45, causing a condition called fatty liver. “All the food you eat arrives at your liver at the same time, and everything gets backed up,” explains health and longevity expert and New York Times bestselling author of The Plant Paradox, Steven Gundry, M.D. “So the liver diverts that extra food into fat, which is how fat gets stored in the liver.”
Now new research suggests that a chemical commonly sprayed on crops to kill weeds, glyphosate, is making this epidemic of fatty liver even worse. Though manufacturer Bayer (formerly Monsanto) assures consumers that the herbicide — which has been widely used since 1991 — is safe, a study conducted at the University of California San Diego revealed that the more glyphosate present in a person’s body, the worse shape their liver was in. That’s a problem because 70 percent of people have glyphosate in their system — a 500 percent increase from 20 years ago, according to the investigators. “The more glyphosate you consume, the more fat builds up in your liver,” explains weight-loss expert Ken Berry, M.D. “The liver plays an important role in breaking down and burning fats. So the more fat you have stored in your liver, the harder it is for your body to mobilize fat stored elsewhere in the body.”
Glyphosate significantly depletes levels of glutathione, a key detoxifying antioxidant that helps clear stored fat from the liver. As fat begins to pile up in the organ, the chemical continues its assault on the liver. “Glyphosate also paralyzes the liver enzymes that convert vitamin D to its active form,” adds Dr. Gundry. This prevents vitamin D from regulating blood sugar, boosting immunity and powering weight loss. A 2019 study found that, all told, these combined effects are linked to a threefold increase in fatty liver disease. And in an Australian study, subjects with fatty liver on a low-calorie diet lost 55 percent less weight — and lost it 37 percent more slowly — than those with healthy liver function.
Fortunately, it’s easy to heal the liver and sidestep future damage by adopting a keto diet. “When you start a keto diet, your body will burn the most dangerous fat first, which is the fat stored in your liver,” says Dr. Berry. Indeed, in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who followed a keto diet for just two weeks burned nearly twice as much liver fat as those who ate a standard low-calorie diet, freeing up the organ to break down and metabolize fat stored throughout the body. A high-fat diet also effortlessly lowers glyphosate exposure. “The biggest way to reduce your glyphosate intake is to stop eating grains and packaged foods,” says Dr. Berry. It’s also the best way to slim quick: In one recent study, women on a keto diet dropped more than twice as much weight as women on a calorie-restricted diet.
Keto benefits go well beyond weight loss.
In studies, keto diets have been shown to improve memory by 62 percent, boost mood by 52 percent and decrease heart-harming triglycerides by 300 percent. And when Twila Longenberger, 57, started a keto diet and focused on choosing organic foods to avoid glyphosate, she lost 102 pounds in four months, got off her blood-pressure medications, eliminated joint pain and reversed her diabetes. “My doctor says my liver function is ideal now,” cheers the quilting enthusiast from Indiana. “The whole point of doing keto was to get healthy, stay healthy and feel great. Now that I’m here, I’m never going back!” Read on to learn how keto can help you!
What to eat, when.
“Once you start a keto diet, your liver will start to heal within days — if not hours,” promises weight-loss expert Ken Berry, M.D. Indeed, adopting a high-fat diet will help the liver burn the fat that’s clogging the organ, freeing it up to promote fat burning throughout the body. Dr. Berry says that a high-fat diet can completely cure fatty liver in as little as six weeks. “A keto diet works because you are taking things down to one primary fuel source,” explains Steven Gundry, M.D. “With only fat to use for fuel, there won’t be as much traffic on the freeway heading into the liver, so food can be processed and utilized really quickly.”
Plus, keto will help reverse the buildup of fat in the liver caused by the herbicide glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, asserts Dr. Gundry. “The manufacturer of glyphosate has assured us that it’s safe for humans. But glyphosate paralyzes key liver enzymes and disrupts slimming.” The result: weight gain, fatty liver, GI issues and weakened immunity.
Fortunately, you can avoid glyphosate — and its health-sapping effects — by choosing keto-approved foods and sidestepping commonly contaminated foods like grains. “If you are filling your plate with high-quality sources of healthy fats, then you will not encounter glyphosate,” asserts Dr. Gundry. The payoff: In one Australian study, subjects with a fatty liver who followed a high-fat diet for six weeks had 82 percent less liver fat than those who followed a low-fat, highcarbohydrate diet.
To get the benefits, Dr. Gundry suggests that 80 percent of the calories you eat every day come from fat. To hit that goal, aim to eat 30 grams of fat at each meal. Top sources include avocados (29 grams per fruit), coconut milk (28 grams per ½ cup), macadamia nuts (26 grams per ¼ cup), seafood like salmon (22 grams per 6 oz.), walnuts (16 grams per ¼ cup), pistachios (14 grams per ¼ cup), extra-virgin olive oil (14 grams per Tbs.), red meat (10 grams per 2 oz.), soft cheese (about 8 grams per ounce) and eggs (5 grams per egg).
The rest of your plate should be filled with green non-starchy vegetables like kale, spinach, arugula, asparagus, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which have been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the liver by as much as 38 percent. You’ll avoid milk, yogurt, grains, legumes, starchy carbohydrates and out-of-season fruits (which tend to be higher in sugar). Don’t want to give up grains altogether? Look for those labeled “non-GMO”—they have much lower levels of glyphosate than traditionally farmed grains. Cheers Dr. Berry: “This is the diet that’s going to reverse fatty liver.” And for even faster slimming, incorporate these strategies:
- Sip a morning joe. Coffee’s benefits for the liver are impressive: Studies show that risk of liver disease drops by 44 percent among people who sip two cups daily and 65 percent among those who have 4 cups. To get the benefits, Dr. Berry suggests drinking at least 8 oz. of coffee each day. For best results, reduce the amount of milk and sugar you add each morning, working your way toward drinking your morning joe black or sweetened with a splash of cream and/or stevia.
- Up your choline. “Choline is a very good support for the liver, and a ketogenic diet naturally increases your intake of choline,” says Dr. Berry. Indeed, the nutrient helps the liver break down fat, plus switches on enzymes that speed repair of this hardworking organ. Bonus: Choline shuts down the production of hunger-promoting hormones, helping you feel full longer. Aim to eat two servings of choline-rich foods each day, including two eggs, 6 oz. of poultry, fish or beef liver or 2 cups of cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts).
- Go for organic and non-GMO when possible.When buying produce, choosing organic can reduce glyphosate exposure by 90 percent in just seven days. “You should buy the best quality meat you can afford,” adds Dr. Berry. “Grass-fed (from cattle that ate some grass), grass-finished (from cattle that ate nothing but grass), organic and antibiotic-free meats are definitely a little better because the livestock are less likely to have had glyphosate-spiked feed in their diet.” Dr. Gundry also recommends buying from local farms that don’t use herbicides. To find farms and markets, visit LocalHarvest.org.
- Close the kitchen at 8. “The ultimate fatty liver reversal strategy is to work in a daily fast of 14 to 16 hours,” says Dr. Berry. According to a study from the University of Sydney in Australia, doing so improves the liver’s ability to process and utilize fats. For example, you might wait to eat until noon, eat all your meals before 8PM, and then repeat the following day. To get the benefits, delay your breakfast this way at least twice a week, although Dr. Berry adds, “the more often you fast, the faster you’ll see results.” To help stave off hunger before your first meal, sip black coffee in the morning — chlorogenic acid in the brew has been shown to reduce hunger-stimulating blood-sugar fluctuations by 50 percent, so you can sail through your morning.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.