When it comes to taking care of our health, we often overlook one of the body’s most important organs — the liver. However, the liver is responsible for important functions like the production of digestion-boosting bile, and it even governs our fat metabolism. But what’s the best way to eat for a healthy liver? Research shows that a high protein diet can help us nourish the liver, avoid disease, and take better care of our overall health.
A study published in the journal Liver International demonstrated how a high-protein diet might help protect against fatty liver, a condition in which fat builds up and can’t be eliminated by the overworked organ.
Excess fat in the liver can lead to inflammation and scarring, which can, in worst cases, lead to conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver failure, heart disease, kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention, when the liver is overloaded with too much fat, its ability to detoxify is lessened and toxic byproducts are released back into the blood stream. This can cause a number of other issues including fatigue, poor cognitive function, and even weight gain.
For the study, researchers aimed to determine whether a diet rich in protein could influence the amount of fat stored in the liver. They recruited 19 obese people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and divided them into two groups: one that would eat a diet high in protein, and the other who would eat a low protein diet for a total of three weeks. Following the diet period, subjects all underwent bariatric surgery to treat their obesity during which liver samples were collected.
After studying the samples, the researchers found that those following the reduced-calorie, high-protein diet decreased the amount of fat in their livers by a whopping 40 percent! Meanwhile, the group eating the low-protein diet did not experience a decrease in the amount of fat in their livers at all. That’s a huge difference!
Luckily, adding more protein to your diet is relatively easy. Just favor foods like lean poultry and fish, eggs, dairy products like milk and yogurt (especially greek yogurt), nuts and nut butters, and beans and legumes. To fight a fatty liver, it’s also been recommended that you cut back on fried foods, foods that contain a lot of oil or saturated fat, and refined sugars and carbs.
Here’s to a happy liver!