The study published in the Journal of Hepatology revealed that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) could be one of the outcomes of western diet that contains relatively high consumption of red and processed meat.
The previous studies have already claimed how red and mainly processed meat is tied to the risk of cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. According to the latest study, it can take a severe toll on your liver too. According to the researchers, unhealthy Western lifestyle plays a major role in the development and progression of NAFLD, like lack of physical activity and high consumption of fructose and saturated fat.
To test the association of type of meat and cooking method with NAFLD and insulin resistance, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study among individuals 40-70 years old. The participants were made to undergo screening colonoscopy and who agreed to participate in a metabolic and hepatic screening study between 2013 and 2015.
Using ultrasonography and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), NAFLD and insulin resistance were evaluated. Meat-type and cooking method were measured by food frequency and detailed meat consumption questionnaires.
The cooking methods were also taken into account, unhealthy cooking methods were characterized as frying or grilling to a level of well done or very well done.These methods produce heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These HCAs are pro-inflammatory compounds. The scientists also took into account the intake of HCAs as part of their study.
Not taking into account the results of participants who were afflicted with factors such as viral liver disease and alcohol abuse, close to 800 subjects were included in the main analysis. A sub-sample of 357 subjects completed the meat questionnaire.
The findings revealed that 38.7 percent of participants were diagnosed with NAFLD and 30.5 percent were diagnosed with insulin resistance.
The scientists revealed that the proportion of red and white meat intake was about one third and two thirds, respectively, which is similar to the typical diet of the Israeli population. The findings also revealed that amongst high meat eaters, were mainly young male. They also had a higher body mass index (BMI), caloric intake, and a worse metabolic profile.
High consumption of red and processed meat was found to be independently associated with NAFLD and insulin resistance regardless of saturated fat and cholesterol intake and other risk factors such as BMI.
It was also found that individuals who consumed large quantities of meat cooked using unhealthy methods and those already diagnosed with NAFLD who consumed high HCAs had a higher chance of having insulin resistance.
One of the limitation of the study was that it was mostly questionnaire based. Direct links between high red and processed meat consumption and NAFLD also remains to be confirmed by prospective studies. But the researchers feel that a few ditary tweaks may goa long way in keeping oneself healthy. Including more healthier 'white meat', such as chicken or turkey, including fish in the diet, and steaming or boiling food instead of grilling or frying meat at a high temperature, are some ways that can help one protect their liver and insulin levels.