This Is the Damage That Holiday Eating and Drinking Does to Your Liver


This might be a fun month for you, but December’s a rough one for your liver.


Levi Brown

Four nogs? Your liver drinks them, too. Extra gravy? Your liver consumes it as well. Half of a jellied-cranberry log? Your liver would have stopped at a third, but you’re in this together, so . . . The important part is nearly every bite you eat and every drink you down ends up getting managed by the same organ in your body: your liver. Although it’s one of your largest organs, the stuff you do to it this month can overwhelm it and leave you with long-term damage. Which means it has less bandwidth to regulate blood sugar, process cholesterol, and make certain hormones that you need to . . . you know. . . live. Here’s how the wreckage happens and how to avoid it. (Hint: Easy on the nog.)

The first sip of booze . . .

When you have a drink or two, your liver kicks into gear and performs triage: It transforms the alcohol in your sidecar into harmless water and carbon dioxide, which you then pee out or exhale. It also holds on to anything it can use, like the antioxidants in wine or the carbs in beer. The whole process is a no-brainer for the liver, but the metabolism of alcohol creates fatty acids along the way, which get stored as triglycerides—a kind of cholesterol—until your body can use them up. Typically, if you eat and drink reasonable amounts, it will use them just fine. Until you . . .

alcohol liver health

Getty ImagesPhoto by Rafa Elias

Have a few more drinks. . .

“If you binge, then binge again, then binge again, your liver gets shocked each time and can’t recover,” says Christopher Koh, M.D., a researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The more you drink, the more your liver shuffles those triglycerides into the “burn later” pile . . . until the pile is so big that your liver can’t get to the bottom of it. This causes inflammation and eventually kills off liver cells, leaving scar tissue in their place (and can lead to cirrhosis, a problem that’s increasingly affecting 25- to 34-year-olds). Not good. Just three get-togethers a week through the holiday season can initiate inflammation, if each outing involves more than five servings of alcohol in two hours. Not to mention when . . .

Now, some food. A lot of food.

You don’t even have to drink alcohol to mess up your liver. Seasonal foods (you know, with saturated fat, refined carbs, or processed red meat) combined with holiday-associated weight gain can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). “It’s estimated that up to 30 percent of the U. S. population has NAFLD, and there aren’t symptoms, so people usually don’t know and aren’t doing anything to reverse it,” says Mazen Noureddin, M.D., director of the Fatty Liver Disease Program at Cedars-Sinai. Meanwhile, that fat is wreaking the same havoc alcohol does—inflammation and eventual scarring—without the libations. NAFLD could develop in as little as six weeks if you really overdo it.

holiday food liver health

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How To Hit “Restore”

Your liver can actually regenerate—if you stop beating it down. You don’t need an activated-charcoal smoothie or a beet-juice detox cleanse to do it. Your liver naturally gets itself back in working order if you move the heck out of its way. A month or so without a drop of alcohol (no beer during the game, no wine at the client dinner) can reduce the fat storage in the liver and help tame inflammation. You can undo some of the fat that causes NAFLD by cleaning up your diet and cutting portion size: Losing 5 percent of your weight can reduce fat in your liver by up to 30 percent.

One thought on “This Is the Damage That Holiday Eating and Drinking Does to Your Liver

  • December 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm
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    DECEMBER and JANUARY,,, AMERICAS TIME OF UNIVERSAL HEDONISM, THE WORSHIP OF SELF AND IDOLATRY AND LUST OF THE FLESH. ( later comes mardigras hedonism)!
    SECULAR DELUSIONS OF CHRISTMAS, THE FAKE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS INVENTED FROM FALSE DOCTRINES. SO MEN AND WOMEN YOUNG AND OLD, INDULGE IN THE DEVILS ALLUSIONS AND TURN TO DRUGS LIQUIDS OR PILLS OR NEEDLES TO HELP THEM FIND SOME FORM OF HOPE CAUSED BY THE PATH OF A REPROBATE THINKING.
    ALCOHOL IS USED PRIMARILY TO COPE, BECAUSE OF NO HOPE, SO ONE TURNS TO LIQUID DOPE, NO OTHERS USE ALCOHOL TO HELP THEM (USUALLY WOMEN) TO REMOVE THEIR INHIBITIONS, MORALS & ETHICS AND THAT RELEASES WITHIN THEM THE DESIRES TO FIND PLEASURES IN RECREATIONAL COPULATION WITH WHAT EVER COMES DOWN THE ROAD. WHILE THE LIVER IS A NECESSARY DEVICE TO SUSTAIN HUMAN LIFE ON EARTH, WELL, WHAT IF IT QUITS WORKING? THEN YOU DIE? AND NOW YOUR LIVER IS LIKE A GRAIN OF SAND IN THE EVENTS YOU FACE WHEN ONE NOW FACES THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE AND HIS SON AND DISCOVER THAT YOUR METHOD OF RUNNING YOUR LIFE AND LIFESTYLE ACTUALLY CAUSES YOU TO BE BANNED FROM HEAVEN AND ARE NOW EXTRADITED 1ST CLASS INTO HELL, IN SPITE OF ALL YOUR SELF INVENTED OPINIONS AND PRACTICES.
    CHRISTMAS, THE SECULAR FAKE HOLIDAY, WHERE PEOPLE FOR CENTURIES HAVE FOLLOWED THE BEGUILED ROAD THAT TAKES THEM TO THE ETERNAL BARBECUE.
    CHRISTMAS , THE ALLEGED DAY OF THE BIRTH OF GODS SON, WHOM NOW, IN THE USA
    IS VERY MISQUOTED, AND MIS-FOLLOWED AND LIED TO MORE THAN ANYONE!
    JESUS, THE BIRTH OF HIM WHO CARRIED THE MESSAGE OF “REPENT” AND TURN ALL OF YOUR LIFE AND WAYS AND MIND OVER TO GOD, AND THEN TURN AND DENY ALL THE SEDUCTIONS OF THIS WORLD AND FOLLOW HIM ONLY 100%.
    GEE,,, ? HOW DO SO MANY PEOPLE PRACTICE THE FAKE IDEA OF CHRISTMAS AND THEN
    FOLLOW THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF ALL HE TAUGHT AND REQUIRES ?
    WHO HAS BEWITCHED THESE PEOPLE ?

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