I thought we were through demonizing saturated fats.
I put my headline’s “meal” in quotes because the only item in the meal was palm oil. That doesn’t look like one of my meals.
“Individuals who consume higher levels of saturated fats are more likely to feel the effects of a range of health conditions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Although this link is well-known, exactly how and why it develops is not yet clear.
Recent research investigates the effects of a single high-fat meal on the liver.Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as the name suggests, is a condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver of an individual who drinks little or no alcohol.
Marked by liver inflammation, NAFLD most commonly affects people in their 40s and 50s, and especially those who are obese. It can cause scarring of the liver and permanent damage. At its worst, it can lead to liver failure.NAFLD is primarily characterized by an increased buildup of fat in the liver, and this buildup is often accompanied by insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
German researchers fed a single palm oil meal to 14 healthy men, and some mice.
The article writer doesn’t make it clear whether results apply to the men, the mice, or all combined. Anyway, they found
- Elevated blood triglycerides
- Increased glucagon (a pancreas hormone that raises blood sugar)
- Whole body insulin sensitivity decreased 25 percent
- Hepatic insulin sensitivity decreased 15 percent
- Adipose (fat) tissue insulin sensitivity decreased 34 percent
- Triglycerides in the liver – the main constituent of body fat in humans – also rose by 35 percent
All of these changes would tend to promote not only NAFLD but also type 2 diabetes.
Whether these adverse changes would be see with other saturated fats or polyunsaturated fats is left unstated in the report.
From UpToDate.com: “The pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has not been fully elucidated. The most widely supported theory implicates insulin resistance as the key mechanism leading to hepatic steatosis, and perhaps also to steatohepatitis. Others have proposed that a “second hit,” or additional oxidative injury, is required to manifest the necroinflammatory component of steatohepatitis. Hepatic iron, leptin, antioxidant deficiencies, and intestinal bacteria have all been suggested as potential oxidative stressors.”
I’ve been hearing for years that NAFLD is going to be a big deal. At least every other shift I work in the hospital, I see someone with evidence for fatty liver on ultrasound or CT scan.
The mainstay of therapy for NAFLD is weight loss for those who are obese or overweight. It’s probably a good idea to avoid all alcohol consumption, too.
If you need to lose weight, check out my books.
Steve Parker, M.D.