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Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients
Global Trends Health & Technology

Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients

People with weak or diseased liver may have difficulty digesting high-protein foods like meat. A recent clinical trial has found that this can worsen the condition and lead to severe consequences.

Even when it comes to health problems, people who consider meat a great food are at risk of severe consequences. High-protein foods, including animal products, can undoubtedly help with some diseases or be beneficial in cases of weakness. 

Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients
Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients

But, per a small clinical trial in the US, avoiding meat during liver diseases can help patients. Professionals also add that people who eat meat while having a liver disease may experience some severe consequences. 

Trial Findings In a Nutshell 

Ammonia is dangerous for the human body, especially if it reaches our brains. It is also a natural byproduct of protein digestion in our body, a typical waste product we are usually capable of dealing with. 

In a healthy individual, when bacteria in the intestine break down proteins, they produce ammonia.  After its formation, ammonia is transported to the liver, where it is converted into a less toxic substance called urea. Finally, we eliminate urea, along with any remaining ammonia, through urination to remove them from our bodies. This process helps maintain the body’s nitrogen balance and prevents the buildup of toxic ammonia levels.

This is a normal process in normal or healthy people. 

This process is not that simple in people with weak or diseased livers. Foods high in proteins, especially from animal sources or meat, are not friendly to the liver’s natural process. 

In simple words, the more meat or high-protein foods you eat, the harder your liver will have to work to digest them. If your liver is already damaged, diseased, or weak, it will not work properly. This may lead to a backlog of ammonia in the blood and cause hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a type of cognitive decline. 

So, eating meat, especially in people with weak or diseased liver, can cause hepatic encephalopathy (HE). 

The clinical trial also suggests that moderating or discontinuing the meat intake may ease the loan on people with cirrhosis, an advanced stage of liver disease. 

Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients
Clinical trial suggests avoiding meat may help liver disease patients

According to the study, HE can manifest gradually or suddenly and may progress to coma, which can be fatal due to swelling of brain tissue. People with cirrhosis should avoid eating meat or eat at a lesser frequency to prevent severe consequences.

What is Hepatic Encephalopathy? 

HE (Hepatic Encephalopathy) is a brain disease caused by liver dysfunction. The term Hepatic refers to liver-related, while Encephalopathy indicates brain dysfunction. 

This condition mainly impacts your central nervous system (CNS) and alters how you usually think. Its primary symptoms may include weird behavior, feeling irritated, and confusion. 

Hepatic Encephalopathy symptoms may include; 

  • Changes in mood and behavior; 
  • Trouble concentrating and impulse control; 
  • Poor consciousness and sleep patterns; 
  • Poor coordination and motor functions or
  • Inability to care for yourself, etc. 

Other consequences of eating meat 

Consuming meat in moderation offers various health benefits, such as improving heart health and addressing anemia due to its rich iron content. However, excessive meat consumption has been associated with several health concerns.

Here are some basic disadvantages of eating meat or eating it in excessive amounts. 

  • People consuming meat in excessive amounts are at higher risk of cancer and heart diseases. 
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure fluctuation are some well-known side effects of eating meat, especially red meat. 
  • Eating meat in higher amounts may lead to gastric disorders like constipation, bloating, nausea, etc. 
  • Regular intake of red meat causes difficulty in maintaining a healthy body. 

Who should not eat Meat?

Individuals suffering from some health disorders should not eat meat. According to a recent clinical trial, people with cirrhosis should avoid eating meat. In addition, meat is also not good for people suffering from high cholesterol levels, kidney diseases, heart diseases, Alpha-gal syndrome, and cancer. 

Basics about the clinical trial 

The clinical trial took place at the Richmond Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As per the reports, a total of thirty members participated in the study, though not all participants were veterans. All of them were suffering from cirrhosis and were regular meat eaters. Fifteen of them had prior HE. 

All thirty participants were split into three groups, with ten members in each group. Professionals fed each group different kinds of burgers. All burgers contained exactly 20 grams of protein: a pork/beef burger for the first group, a vegan meat substitute for the second group, and a vegetarian burger for the third group. 

All burgers were served with low-fat potato chips, whole grain buns, and water – no extras allowed. 

The only difference between all three types of burgers was the source of protein. This led to a significant effect on the blood samples taken before and after the trial. 

Blood serum ammonia levels increased in patients who ate the meat burger. However, people who took the same amount of protein in other ways had less blood serum ammonia than the meat-eaten group. 

The patients with a history of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) had consistently elevated blood serum ammonia levels compared to those without such a history. However, among these patients, those who consumed meat exhibited a distinct pattern: a significant increase in blood ammonia levels within one hour of consuming a burger, which was not observed in other groups.

Also read: Covishield, COVID-19, Vaccine Causes Rare Dangerous Condition

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