No surprise here: Western diets cause life-threatening fatty liver disease – can we reverse it?

Western diets, which are characterized by a high intake of fatty and cholesterol-rich foods, are known to be bad for your health. A new study presents another reason why adhering to a Western diet is bad for you: This type of diet can cause non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

For the study, researchers at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California demonstrated how a toxic combination of dietary fat and cholesterol can affect the behavior of a type of white blood cell, known as macrophages, in the liver using a mouse model.

In conducting the study, they fed mice diets containing different levels of fat and cholesterol. Through this, they discovered that the combination of fat and cholesterol exhibited a harmful effect on the genes that regulate liver inflammation and scarring. In particular, they found that oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol directly changed gene expression in macrophages associated with inflammation and scar formation in the liver, which is commonly seen in people with NASH. In addition, the researchers found a novel type of reparative macrophage that counteracts the inflammation. (Related: Western diet of processed foods found to cause chronic liver inflammation.)

“Not only does this study define how fat and cholesterol shape the progression of liver inflammation and scarring, but it also identifies potential pathways that can be targeted for future therapies. That could bring us closer to finding a treatment for a disease that impacts millions of lives around the world,” said Dr. Hugo Rosen, M.D., corresponding author of the study and professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the Keck School.

In conclusion, adhering to Western diets, or a diet high in fat and cholesterol can trigger changes in the immune system, which can result in NASH. NASH is characterized by the inflammation and damage of the liver caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. Because of the damage, the liver cannot function normally. The disease can get worse and cause scarring of the liver. This may lead to cirrhosis or even liver cancer, particularly in people who are obese or those who have Type 2 diabetes, particularly in people who are obese or those who have Type 2 diabetes. NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease in the U.S., and about 20 percent of these people have NASH.

Western diets affect gut health

Keeping your gut healthy is essential to your overall health. Numerous studies have shown that gut health is related to the immune system, autoimmune diseases, cancer, endocrine problems, mental health, mood, and skin conditions. Trillions of microorganisms live in the digestive tract; many are beneficial and necessary to a healthy body, while some are harmful. An ideal gut environment is one that is filled with diverse bacteria. Having a wide variety of these beneficial bacteria in your gut can strengthen your immune system, improve symptoms of depression, help fight obesity, and provide many other benefits.

However, research has shown that adhering to a high-fat, high-sugar diet, such as Western diets, destroy essential gut bacteria, resulting in an imbalanced gut bacteria. As a result, this can trigger an inflammatory response, which is the body’s attempt of fighting off bacteria it considers a threat. This, in turn, puts the body in a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation, still perceiving certain stimuli as a threat.

Experts recommend changing your diet to reduce chronic inflammation. You can take good care of your gut environment healthy by feeding gut bacteria the right foods. You can start by eating less salt and sugar, replacing bad fat with healthy fat, and eating more vegetables and fruits, herbs and spices, legumes, and whole grains.

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus