A large epidemiological study showed that a diet high in animal protein is associated with an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The results, presented at the International Congress of the liver in 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, have also shown that fructose consumption is not as bad as previously thought.
NAFLD is a serious health problem because it can lead to permanent scarring (cirrhosis), and eventually to cancer and liver function abnormalities. Dangerous complications arise when requiring liver transplantation. Furthermore, NAFLD contributes to an increased risk ofcardiovascular disease, Such as diabetes and atherosclerosis. NAFLD is diagnosed when the accumulation of fat in the body is greater than 5% of the hepatocytes (the cells that make up the liver). It is estimated that approximately 1 billion people around the world can be NAFLD. In the early stages of the disease can be cured with diet and lifestyle changes such as weight loss, but it can progress and lead to more serious liver disease. Until now, a lot of discussion about whether a weight loss sufficient, while the new findings suggest that it is important also part of the diet, not the number of calories consumed.
"Healthy lifestyle - the cornerstone of treatment, but the specific dietary recommendations are not available, - says Louise Alferink, author of the study from Rotterdam, the Netherlands -. The results show that animal protein is associated with NAFLD in older people who are overweight . This corresponds to a recently proposed hypothesis that a diet rich in animal protein causes abnormal glucose metabolism. Another interesting finding is that, despite the fact that the existing recommendations contain advice on foods containing fructose, such as soda and sugar, the results do not indicate harmful association mono- and di-saccharides with NAFLD as such. These results should be interpreted with caution, but we expect that the increase in consumption of healthy food in the mono- and disaccharide group, such as fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may partly explain these results. "
The Rotterdam Study - permanent demographic study, which is carried out in the Netherlands. The study involved 3 440, of which 1040 (30%) were thin (body mass index [BMI] less than 25 kg / m2) and 2400 (70%) were overweight (BMI 25 kg / m2 or more). The median age was 71 years, and NAFLD, according abdominal ultrasound, was present at 1191 (35%) of the participants. Macronutrients consumption was recorded by a questionnaire on the frequency of use of products and analyzed using the method of power density (energy percent).
Significant association between NAFLD and macronutrients found mainly in people who are overweight. The results showed that total protein associated with higher coefficients of NAFLD, and this association was mainly determined by animal protein. In addition, a diet rich in mono and disaccharides linked to a lesser likelihood of NAFLD. The results once again stressed the need for a varied diet.
According to Professor Philip Newsome, the use of animal protein should be considered when counseling patients at risk of developing the disease.