How Can Going Meatless For Just One Meal Benefit Liver Patients?

A new study has discovered that replacing meat with plant-based proteins for one meal lowers harmful ammonia levels in those suffering from severe diseases like liver cirrhosis. Read on to know how.
Meatless diet for cirrhosis

High levels of ammonia in the blood are linked to cirrhosis, which is influenced by factors like gut bacteria and diet

A single meal without the intake of meat can significantly help lower levels of harmful ammonia in those suffering from advanced liver disease like liver cirrhosis, a new study has revealed. According to the research conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, this small clinical trial included non-vegetarian adults whose livers are permanently damaged by cirrhosis extensively studied the effects of substituting one meal with a meatless option – either vegan or vegetarian.

How does going meatless help cirrhosis patients?

Researchers said high levels of ammonia in the blood are linked to cirrhosis, which is influenced by factors like gut bacteria and diet. Various other studies conducted previously have also hinted at the benefits of a vegetarian diet for those battling liver issues, as dietary changes can help them sustain better health for a longer time.
And so, the study, published in the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, said even a single meatless meal eaten by patients with cirrhosis generates less harmful ammonia. “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,” said Dr. Jasmohan Bajaj, VCU gastroenterologist, and study lead “We now need more research to learn if consuming meals without meat goes beyond reducing ammonia to preventing problems in brain function and liver disease progression,” he added.

The study

The study included 30 adult participants suffering from cirrhosis who were split into three groups of 10 to eat three kinds of burgers - one made of pork or beef, one with a vegan meat substitute, and a vegetarian bean burger. Each burger contained 20 grams of protein, reflecting the amount in a typical Western meal. Apart from burgers, the participants also ate low-fat potato chips and a whole-grain bun.
Researchers said even though patients had similar gut bacteria profiles initially, the type of meal affected ammonia levels differently, with those eating meat burgers having higher amino acids associated with ammonia production and hepatic encephalopathy than those who ate the non-meat burgers.
“The main take-home message was that occasionally skipping meat from just a single meal can have benefits for patients with cirrhosis. A simple change to a patient’s diet or substituting some parts of it could be a simple and accessible method to reduce ammonia generation,” Bajaj said.

How does ammonia harm your liver?

According to experts, ammonia toxicity harms your liver when it is unable to process ammonia, causing it to build up in the blood. It happens when the liver overproduces ammonia like in congenital hyperammonemia, or when it under-eliminates ammonia, such as in liver cirrhosis.
Doctors say ammonia - also known as NH3, is a waste product that bacteria in your intestines primarily make when digesting protein. Normally, ammonia gets transformed into another waste product called urea, which is then carried to your kidneys, and eliminated in your urine. If any part of this process, known as the urea cycle, stops working, ammonia builds up in your blood and passes from your blood into your brain. Doctors warn that the level of ammonia in your blood must remain very low.

What are normal levels of ammonia?

Normal blood levels of ammonia vary according to age and are higher in newborns as compared to adults. In newborns, gestational and postnatal ages also affect the levels of ammonia.

Healthy term infants

45±9 micromoles per liter (micromol/L); 80 to 90 micromol/L is considered to be the upper limit of normal

Preterm infants

71±26 micromol/L, decreasing to term levels in about seven days.

Children older than one month

Less than 50 micromol/L.

Adults

Less than 30 micromol/L.
Cleveland Clinic says blood ammonia levels should be less than 50 micromoles per liter (micromol /L), but this can vary depending on age. An increase to only 100 micromol /L can lead to changes in consciousness. A blood ammonia level of 200 micromol /L is associated with coma and convulsions.
End of Article
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news