Scientists have revealed that people who consume meat-based diet are at an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is a disease wherein fat builds up in the liver in overweight people. NAFLD is a major health concern as it can lead to permanent scarring (cirrhosis) and subsequently to cancer and malfunction of the liver. This may result in life-threatening complications for which a liver transplant is needed.
A total of 3,440 people were included in the study of whom 30 per cent were lean and 70 per cent were overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25kg/sq. m or greater). The average age was 71 years and NAFLD, as assessed by abdominal ultrasound, was present in 35 per cent of the participants. Macronutrient intake was recorded using an externally validated 389-item food frequency questionnaire, and analysed in quartiles using the nutrition density method (energy percentage).
Furthermore, analyses were stratified for BMI to account for BMI-related differences in eating habits and dietary measurement errors. Significant associations between macronutrients and NAFLD were found predominantly in overweight individuals. The results showed that total protein was associated with higher odds of NAFLD and this association was mainly driven by animal protein.
To prevent occurrence of NAFLD people should stick to a healthy lifestyle says lead author of the study Louise Alferink from the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
“The results from this study demonstrate that animal protein is associated with NAFLD in overweight elderly people,” Alferink said.
Authors of the study presented the findings of the study at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam wherein they also revealed that fructose consumption per se might not be as harmful as previously assumed.