Proper nutrition is really important to keep a healthy. Your liver keeps performing its normal functions as long as you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Your liver also performs the function of metabolizing proteins. Protein is typically involved in repairing body tissues, but it also helps your liver prevent any damage to liver cells and fatty buildup.
Protein Necessity For Liver Health:
Just like other nutrients, the metabolism of the body’s nitrogen and protein is maintained by your liver. When you consume proteins, the breakdown of proteins into amino acids occurs in the intestine. The amino acids are then transported to the liver so that they can be used in the synthesis of body proteins.
The liver also releases excess amino acids from where they are transported to your body muscles to be used or converted into urea. Urea is then excreted out of the body through urine. During the breakdown of body protein, the bacteria present in the intestine convert some proteins into a toxic metabolic product – ammonia. Your liver detoxifies ammonia and converts it into urea which is then eliminated out of the body (1).
Benefits Of Protein Intake:
- Protein intake from healthy foods is effective against many metabolic disorders because it provides essential amino acids to the liver.
- Protein intake is also associated with the increased metabolic rate of the body so that it can work well (2).
- Proteins also reduce your appetite and help with weight loss compared to carbohydrates and fats (3).
- Finally, yet importantly, adequate protein intake protects you from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
High Protein Intake Is Not Always Healthy:
Although protein is a great addition to a healthy diet, a high animal protein diet may increase the risk of fatty liver. Some studies had found that the risk of fatty liver disease was increased when overweight individuals consumed 37% of animal protein.
It has also been reported that diets rich in refined sugars and animal proteins have been associated with the alteration of acid balance and glucose metabolism in the body (4).
However, some studies have also shown that a high-protein diet is effective against fatty liver disease compared to a low-protein diet (5). It is therefore important to dose correctly your dietary proteins and to avoid any excess, whether it is downwards or upwards
People who are at risk of fatty liver disease can get proteins from plant-based sources, mainly soy products, nuts, peas, beans, and tofu.
- Griffin JWD, Bradshaw PC. Effects of a high protein diet and liver disease in an in silico model of human ammonia metabolism. Theor Biol Med Model. 2019 Jul 31;16:11.
- Veldhorst MAB, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Westerterp KR. Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;90(3):519–26.
- Johnstone AM, Stubbs RJ, Harbron CG. Effect of overfeeding macronutrients on day-to-day food intake in man. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jul;50(7):418–30.
- Why Eating More Protein Isn’t Always Better [Internet]. Time. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://time.com/4758402/protein-fatty-liver-disease/
- How protein protects against fatty liver [Internet]. ScienceDaily. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200818103815.htm