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Scientists have discovered a key factor in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) prevention: reducing meat consumption. A recent study looked at the daily dietary habits of 3,882 seventy-year old adults and their liver scans. Scans showed that 34% of study subjects had NAFLD, despite many of them being a healthy weight. Those who were overweight and ate the most animal protein were 54% more likely to have NAFLD than those who consumed less meat. Calorie and vegetable consumption were similar in both diseased and healthy groups. Hepatology →Takeaway: Researchers who conducted the study point out that dietary factors can help in preventing the disease, even in those who have a genetic risk. Processed meats and red meats pose the greatest risk for developing NAFLD and reducing overall meat consumption and replacing animal protein with plant-based options is the way to go!

A low sugar diet is an effective treatment in boys with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study included 40 boys with NAFLD between the ages of 11 and 16. Half of the boys adopted a low sugar diet (added sugars making up less than 3% of total calorie intake) for 8 weeks, while the other half ate as usual. Liver fat was measured at baseline and after the 8-week intervention. Results showed that boys in the low sugar group had a 31% average reduction in liver fat as well as a significant reduction in liver inflammation measured in the blood, while the boys who remained on their usual diets showed no improvement. JAMA →Takeaway: Over 5 million children have NAFLD, and while a healthy diet is recommended, few studies quantify the incredible positive impact a healthy diet can have on the disease. Researchers noted that one of the main ways they lowered…

Weight gain in young children has detrimental effects on liver health. A recent study found that an increased waist circumference in three year olds was linked to a greater likelihood of increased non-alcoholic fatty liver disease markers (elevated ATL levels – a liver enzyme that acts as a marker for liver disease) at age 8. Those children who had greater obesity gains between ages 3 and 8 were at greater risk of elevated ALT levels. While non-alcoholic liver disease is usually asymptomatic, it’s on the rise in overweight children and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer in adulthood. The Journal of Pediatrics →Takeaway: ALT levels are usually tested in at-risk children starting at the age of 10, but this study illustrates that liver health is affected even earlier in children who are overweight and even more so in those who consistently gain excess weight between the ages of 3…