Most of us don’t think about our liver much.
Well that is until something goes wrong with it, of course. But if you have type 2 diabetes, you may find yourself having to worry about your liver health sooner, rather than later.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver problem in the US and Europe. And while most folks aren’t familiar with the disease, diabetics are at a higher risk for developing it.
Left untreated, fatty liver can progress into cirrhosis of the liver, which can be deadly. But it turns out a simple diet tweak—one we’ve recommended many times in the past—could be the key to slashing liver fat, and keeping your liver healthy for years to come.
Liver fat plummeted over 50%!
Incredibly, when German researchers put a group of type 2 diabetic men and women, between the ages of 48 and 78, on high protein diets liver fat content plummeted by over 50 percent in half of the study participants.1 But the benefits didn’t end there.
According to the scientists at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, folks on the high protein diets were rewarded with favorable changes in liver and lipid metabolism, improved insulin sensitivity and a drop in hormone fibroblast growth factor 21.
While we aren’t yet entirely sure what role the hormone plays in the body, we do know it’s linked to adipose, or fat-storing, tissues. And research has revealed that folks who are overweight have significantly higher amounts of growth factor 21 in their blood.
Eat more protein to protect your liver
Volunteers who received the high protein diets were put on one of two versions. The first group received a plant-based high-protein diet, which included noodles and bread enriched with pea protein. And the second group ate an animal-protein-based diet, in which they got meat, fish and dairy foods.
Researchers reported that the positive metabolic changes and improvements in liver health were seen with both diets, regardless of the source of the protein. But we’d recommend steering clear of a diet that’s too heavy in carbohydrates because, over the long term, high-carb eating is harmful to your health.
More research is planned, but you don’t have to wait around for those results. You can start taking advantage of a higher protein approach to eating starting today.
It’s not just your liver that can benefit, either. We lose muscle mass as we age which puts us at risk for falling. But it turns out the trick to recapturing those teenage muscles of our youth is to ramp up the protein in our diet. You can do this by concentrating on eating more lean meat, fish, eggs and dairy as well as beans, peas, lentils and nuts such as almonds.
“Isocaloric Diets High in Animal or Plant Protein Reduce Liver fat and Inflammation in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes,” Gastroenterology, Volume 0 , Issue 0, Article In Press, gastrojounral.org accessed 11/2/2016
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