Fighting Liver Cirrhosis: The Impact of Meat-Free Diets

Fighting Liver Cirrhosis
Fighting Liver Cirrhosis. Credit | Getty images

United States: Reversing dangerous blood ammonia levels caused by advanced liver cirrhosis can be achieved by avoiding meat during meals, according to recent study. Lead author of the study Dr. Jasmohan Bajaj, a gastroenterologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said, “It was exciting to see that even small changes in your diet, like having one meal without meat once in a while, could benefit your liver by lowering harmful ammonia levels in patients with cirrhosis.”

Understanding Ammonia Buildup

The study platoon clarified that ammonia is naturally produced by gut bacteria as they prop in the body’s food digestion. When the liver is performing duly, the ammonia is transferred by the organ to the feathers, where it’s safely excluded through urine.

still, cirrhosis impairs the organ’s capability to reuse ammonia so that it builds up in a poisonous way.

The experimenters set up that ammonia may indeed reach the brain and beget distraction or disorientation. This condition is known as hepatic encephalopathy, and if left undressed, it can beget a coma and indeed death.

Diet can have a significant impact on these processes since Western diets heavy in meat and carbs and poor in fibre increase the amount of ammonia generated in the stomach.

Investigating Dietary Influence

So what if something like meat was eliminated from the mixture?

Thirty adult meat-eaters receiving cirrhosis treatment at the Richmond VA Medical Center participated in the new study. Three different types of burgers were given to the patients: a burger made of a combination of beef and pig, a burger made of vegan meat substitute, and a burger made of vegetarian “bean burger” recipe.

Each of the three burgers has around 20 grams of protein. People ate their burgers without toppings, on whole grain buns and with reduced-fat potato chips.

Promising Study Results

Bajaj and colleagues measured blood ammonia levels using certain amino acid markers in the blood a few hours after the meal.

The researchers discovered that patients who remained with the meat burger had greater blood ammonia levels than patients who ate either of the plant-based burgers.

Bajaj said, “We wondered if making an occasional change could be an option for these patients. It can be so hard to make long-term dietary and behavioral changes.” Patients with cirrhosis of the liver should be aware that modifying their diet for the better doesn’t have to be daunting or challenging.”

Considerations and Future Directions

Visual Representation of Liver Disease Patient. Credit | Getty images

Naturally, due to the tiny research sample, the Richmond team emphasized that these are preliminary results. Nevertheless, they think it can’t harm for doctors to inform cirrhosis patients about the new research and advise them to cut back on meat.

The results appeared in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology on May 2.