Foie Gras is a French delicacy. It’s also kind of gross:
To produce “foie gras” (the French term means “fatty liver”), workers ram pipes down the throats of male ducks twice each day, pumping up to 2.2 pounds of grain and fat into their stomachs, or geese three times a day, up to 4 pounds daily, in a process known as “gavage.” The force-feeding causes the birds’ livers to swell to up to 10 times their normal size. Many birds have difficulty standing because their engorged livers distend their abdomens, and they may tear out their own feathers and attack each other out of stress.
Would ducks do this on their own? No. Would we? Yes.
Here are the causes of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) per the NIH website:
Causes of NAFLD
You are more likely to develop NAFLD—either simple fatty liver or NASH—if you
- are overweight or obese
- have insulin resistance
- have abnormal levels of fats in your blood, which may include
- have metabolic syndrome or one or more traits of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of traits and medical conditions linked to overweight and obesity. People with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Experts think NAFLD may be closely linked to metabolic syndrome. Doctors define metabolic syndrome as the presence of any three of the following:
- have type 2 diabetes
Research also suggests that certain genes may make you more likely to develop NAFLD. Experts are still studying the genes that may play a role in NAFLD.
In NAFLD, people have a buildup of fat in the liver that is not caused by alcohol use. If you have a history of heavy alcohol use and fat in your liver, your doctor may determine that you have alcoholic liver disease instead of NAFLD.
Causes of NASH
Experts are not sure why some people with NAFLD have NASH and others have simple fatty liver. Research suggests that certain genes may play a role.
People with NAFLD are more likely to have NASH if they have one or more of the following conditions:
- obesity, especially with a large waist size
- high blood pressure
- high levels of triglycerides or abnormal levels of cholesterol in their blood
- type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
So, to summarize, you get NAFLD from overeating and then NASH from…more overeating. We are those ducks. I bring this up because “results of a recent study showed that nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was the most rapidly growing cause of hepatocellular carcinoma among U.S. patients listed for liver transplantation.” Add to this that it may soon become the most common cause of liver transplantation and it should scare the hell of out all of us. How can we control healthcare costs when Americans are eating themselves into liver transplants? (See yesterday’s Friday funny)
This is not easily fixable unless…unless Soylent Green becomes a reality. These same people would be then be delicacies. Human foie gras would be in high demand where other fat people would eat it and the circle of life would be complete.
I have completely grossed myself out.