Diets high in animal protein increase the risk for fatty liver disease among people who are overweight, according to new research published in Gut. Researchers compared intake of fiber, protein, and other macronutrients with liver disease incidence rates via ultrasounds in 3,882 participants from the Rotterdam Study. Results showed a 36 percent higher risk for fatty liver disease for those who consumed the most animal protein, compared with those who consumed the least. The results showed no negative associations between carbohydrate consumption and liver disease. Suspected mechanisms behind the increased risk include nitrates, nitrites, and heme iron due to their influence on insulin resistance, endothelial function, and oxidative stress. The authors suggest preventive dietary recommendations shift focus toward protein in place of fat and carbohydrates.
- Alferink LJM, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Erler NS, et al. Association of dietary macronutrient composition and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in an ageing population: the Rotterdam Study. Gut. Published online July 31, 2018.