Decoding the Mysteries of Metabolic Disease: Meet UCLA’s Dr. Rajat Singh; He Studies Autophagy and Mitochondrial Health to Find Solutions for Liver Disease

A high-sugar diet is a known contributor to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. But obesity’s impact on the liver, and the cascading effect it ignites, has received far less public attention, according to Rajat Singh, MD, Director of the Liver Basic Science Research Program at UCLA. In addition to over 500 vital functions, the liver is responsible for removing excess glucose from the bloodstream and storing it as glycogen. Eating a diet high in saturated fat, sugar, and simple carbohydrates (in addition to other lifestyle and genetic factors) prevents the liver from breaking food down and processing it as it normally should. Instead, it stores the glucose as fat. Eventually, that fat build-up can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or steatohepatitis — a condition you may have never heard of that affects an estimated quarter of the global population. Sometimes referred to as a “silent epidemic,” the disease progresses slowly, with few initial symptoms or biomarkers.

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