Human foie gras

If you want to make foie gras, you feed ducks and geese copious quantities of grains, such as corn and wheat.

The carbohydrate-rich diet causes fat deposition in the liver via processes such as de novo lipogenesis, the conversion of carbohydrates to triglycerides. Ducks and geese are particularly good at this, since they store plentiful fats in the liver to draw from during sustained periods of not eating during annual migration.

Modern humans are trying awfully hard to create their own version of foie gras-yielding livers. While nobody is shoving a tube down our gullets, the modern lifestyle of grotesque carbohydrate overconsumption, like soft drinks, chips, pretzels, crackers, and--yes--"healthy whole grains" causes fat accumulation in the human liver.

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatosis, two forms of liver disease that result from excess fat deposition. The situation gets so bad in some people that it progresses to cirrhosis, i.e., a hard, poorly-functioning liver that paints a very ugly health picture. The end-result is identical to that experienced by longstanding alcoholics.

While Hannibal Lecter might celebrate the proliferation of human fatty livers with a glass of claret, fatty liver disease is an entirely preventable condition. All it requires is not eating the foods that create it in the first place.

Comments (10) -

  • Anonymous

    9/17/2010 6:32:37 PM |

    What a great analogy.  Many thanks.

  • Anna

    9/17/2010 6:39:49 PM |

    Don't forget the fruit juices that everyone thinks are so healthy to drink in frequent and large quantities - let's not be fooled by 100% fruit juice labels, either (legal for juice processors to claim because the added sugars are concentrated fruit sugars instead of other sugars like cane or corn sugars) or otherwise.  

    Even though I no longer drink fruit juice, I'm veyr much enjoying reading the book, Squeezed, What You Don't Know About Orange Juice.  A bit dry at times because of all the narrative involving the 1960s-era FDA hearings on the of the exploding pre-squeezed OJ industry, it's still a great tale because of its parallels with other foods that are widely considered to be minimally processed (like dairy), yet are anything but.  There's a reason why orange and dairy processing plants look like refineries...

  • Anonymous

    9/17/2010 8:11:39 PM |

    Hannibal prefer Chianti with liver.

  • Bling

    9/17/2010 8:57:58 PM |

    Dr Davis, Glad to see you obviously read my comment on your previous post about "Foie Gras". Yes, I always thought it was uncanny that the medical profession never saw the similarities between Foie Gras and NAFL. Smile
    Meanwhile, I'm still here after a year on low carb, giving low carb a bad name because I am still so big. I'm off to find an NHS doctor to prescribe me Metformin since I think it's a good idea. I think I may have to fake diabetes though, since technically I am prediabetic. Wish me luck.
    Peace out.

  • john

    9/17/2010 9:20:42 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I ate many carbs (including lots of sugar) in my younger years yet have always had good body composition...  

    Is fatty liver without obesity common?

  • Anonymous

    9/17/2010 10:41:17 PM |

    Did you blog on the unexpected benefits of gluten-free? I.e. no more IBS, no more heartburn, etc. In recent days, I have visited many blogs and I cannot find it. I have a hand written note that I found it on your site. Thanks

  • Anonymous

    9/17/2010 10:44:05 PM |

    I found the unexpected effects of a gluten free diet in September through a Google search. thanks.

  • Anonymous

    9/18/2010 3:00:10 AM |

    Clarification please, I'm a new reader: This avoiding "healthy grains" that is being advocated, is it the avoidance of wheat only?  Are oats, brown rice ok?

  • praguestepchild

    9/18/2010 11:30:14 AM |

    I eat a lot of paté and foie gras. I consider it to be an ideal food, except that one can actually OD on all the vitamins. It seems expensive but it's filling, a few tablespoons make a light meal.

    Ironic that a great way to avoid a fatty liver is to eat fatty liver.

  • homertobias

    9/18/2010 4:38:36 PM |

    Oh Dr. D

    You should let your sense of humor out more often!  It is delightful!
    Thanks for making me laugh this morning.

    Of course I love Silence of the Lambs and Anthony Hopkins in particular. And yes, it was eat his liver with fava beans and a glass of good chianti.