Increased protein in diets reduces fatty liver disease, risk of type 2 diabetes

The benefits of a high-protein diet continue to grow as more and more research is done on the subject.

The latest study on the subject — courtesy of the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism — found that protein-heavy diets may reduce the liver’s fat content and lower the risk of diabetes in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The American Physiological Society gathered 25 volunteers, including 15 who had been previously diagnosed with NAFLD, to participate in a low-calorie diet to lose eight percent body weight. After the participants reached their weight loss goals, they were told to maintain weight through a moderate- or high-protein diet averaging from 0.8 to 1 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.

Researchers found that after two years of weight loss, the dietary protein increase led to a reduced liver fat content. They also found that over half of the participants previously diagnosed with NAFLD no longer had a fatty liver.

“These findings stress the clinical implications and potential benefits of increased protein intake after weight loss for people with NAFLD at risk to develop diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

NAFLD — more colloquially called “fatty liver” — is a result of the liver’s total weight being made up of more than five percent fatty tissue. This extra fat in the liver may lead to scarring, which may increase the risk of liver cancer or failure. This also comes with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Coincidentally, those with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop NAFLD — an estimated 70 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also have a fatty liver. Obesity is also a major risk factor for NAFLD.

Interested if you are at risk for NAFLD, or even type 2 diabetes? Contact your primary care physician to find ways to better your liver health. You can also simply give us a call to schedule a consultation at 410-565-6552!


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