One High-Fat Meal Affects Your Liver
The health effects of a diet high in saturated fat are well known—an increased risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)—a condition marked by liver inflammation caused by the storage of excess fat in the liver in a person who drinks little or no alcohol—is another such health risk.
NAFLD usually occurs in people in their 40s and 50s and is more common in people who are obese. The condition affects about 20 to 30 percent of people in Western countries—including Europe and the Americas—and 90 percent of people who are morbidly obese. At this time, it is not clear how fatty foods are linked to changes in the liver.
A recent study examined how a single meal high in saturated fat affects insulin sensitivity and other markers of metabolism. The study involved 14 lean, healthy participants who were given a quantity of palm oil equivalent to a rich meal. Researchers observed an immediate increase in fat accumulation in the liver and changes in liver metabolism, as well as elevated triglyceride levels, insulin resistance, and increased blood levels of glucagon (a hormone that increases glucose levels). They concluded that saturated fat consumption influences liver metabolism and fat storage, increasing the risk for metabolic disease.
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