New Study Links Meat Consumption with Liver Disease

A recent study, shared by Science Daily, has linked the consumption of red and processed meat to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Meat intake was also connected to an increased resistance to insulin, which is said to increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study detailed: “World meat consumption has increased during the last decades, and evidence is mounting that high consumption of red and mainly processed meat is unhealthy to humans and is related to chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease”.

The recent research “adds non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to the list”.

Lead investigator Professor Shira Zelber-Sagi, RD, PhD, from the University of Haifa in Israel, explained: “Unhealthy Western lifestyle plays a major role in the development and progression of NAFLD”.

Our study looked at other common foods in the Western diet, namely red and processed meats, to determine whether they increase the risk for NAFLD.”

A cross-sectional study of approximately 800 participants was completed to test possible connections. Participants, whose ages spanned from 40 to 70 years old, underwent a screening colonoscopy as well as metabolic and hepatic screenings between 2013 and 2015.

Additionally, detailed questionnaires recorded participants’ dietary habits, including the type of meat consumption and cooking methods. Science Daily noted that “unhealthy cooking methods” included frying or grilling to a level of well done or very well done, as these techniques produce heterocyclic amines, which promote inflammation.

Insulin resistance was tested using an ultrasonography and homeostasis model assessment. Insulin resistance and inflammation were analysed as these act as key factors in the disease’s pathophysiology. Further, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

The results concluded that high consumption of red and processed meats was independently associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and insulin resistance, even after considering saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Those who’s meat intake was highest, typically had a higher body mass index (BMI), caloric intake, and a worse metabolic profile, Science Daily said.

According to the report, Professor Zelber-Sagi recommends limiting red and processed meat consumption.

He added: “NAFLD is primarily a lifestyle-oriented disease. With sound medical and nutritional guidance from their clinicians, patients are better informed and equipped to implement the lifestyle changes needed to help reverse this disease”.