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Not Eating Meat May Benefit Liver Patients: Study

Going vegan or vegetarian for just one meal may reduce harmful ammonia levels in adults whose livers are permanently damaged by cirrhosis, according to a study released Thursday.

Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and the Richmond VA Medical Center presented a hamburger containing 20 grams of protein to 30 adult carnivores being treated at the medical center.

10 received a pork and beef patty; 10 received a vegan meat substitute; and the others were served a veggie bean burger. Participants also received low-fat chips, a whole grain bun and water. No condiments or toppings were allowed.

Blood and urine samples were taken before and after the meal, with the study authors reporting that participants who ate the meat burger had higher amino acids associated with ammonia production and hepatic encephalopathy than those who ate a hamburger without meat.

Hepatic encephalopathy is a brain disorder caused by severe liver damage.


The study authors reported that participants who ate a meat burger had higher amino acids associated with ammonia production and hepatic encephalopathy than those who ate a meatless burger.
The study authors reported that participants who ate a meatless hamburger had higher amino acids associated with ammonia production and hepatic encephalopathy than those who ate a meatless hamburger. Peakstock – stock.adobe.com

When the body digests food, bacteria in the intestines produce ammonia. Waste products are usually processed in the liver, but severely damaged livers cannot perform this function, allowing the toxic chemical compound to build up in the brain.

Researchers note that gut bacteria and diet can influence ammonia levels.

“It was exciting to see that even small changes in your diet, like having a meat-free meal every now and then, could benefit your liver by reducing harmful ammonia levels in patients with cirrhosis,” she said. said VCU gastroenterologist Dr. Jasmohan Bajaj in a statement. .

“We now need more research to know whether eating meat-free meals goes beyond reducing ammonia and preventing problems with brain function and the progression of liver disease,” he said. -he adds.


Researchers hope doctors will encourage their liver patients who eat meat to replace it with plant-based or dairy-based proteins.
Researchers hope doctors will encourage their liver patients who eat meat to replace it with plant-based or dairy-based proteins. Chronicles of Alfazet – stock.adobe.com

Preliminary results of the study were published in the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology. Bajaj and his team say further investigation into the effect of vegan diets on cirrhosis and ammonia levels is warranted.

In the meantime, they hope doctors will encourage their liver patients who eat meat to replace it with plant-based or dairy-based proteins.

“It can be very difficult to make long-term dietary and behavioral changes,” Bajaj acknowledged. “Patients with liver cirrhosis need to know that making positive changes to their diet does not have to be overwhelming or difficult.”

New York Post

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