Fatty food can reduce sensitivity to insulin, says study

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LONDON, Jan 24: An occasional fatty meal has the potential to revise the human body’s metabolism, and prompt changes associated with liver diseases and diabetes, a recent study has found.

According to scientists at the German Diabetes Centre in Dusseldorf, Germany, a large serving of greasy food can reduce sensitivity to insulin, raising levels of fats that can trigger heart diseases.

The study was conducted with 14 healthy men aged between 20 and 40, divided in two groups where one was given vanilla-flavoured palm oil drink – which contained similar amount of saturated fat as a cheeseburger served with a large portion of chips – while the other group was given plain water.

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Results showed palm oil consumption immediately raised fat accumulation, decreasing sensitivity to insulin by 25%, and increasing levels of triglycerides – a fat linked to cardio disease. It also altered liver functions that led to a change in gene activity related to fatty liver disease, while Glucose-sugar generation from non-carbohydrate foods became 70% more active.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that a single high-fat meal “would probably be sufficient to induce transient insulin resistance and impair hepatic [liver] metabolism.”

“We presume that lean, healthy individuals are able to compensate adequately for excessive intake of saturated fatty acids; however, sustained and repeated exposure to such nutrients will ultimately lead to chronic insulin resistance, and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease),” it further added.

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A research communications manager at Diabetes UK, Emily Burns advised a balanced diet for now. “While this study suggests that fat has a real impact on the liver, we need to be careful how we interpret the results,” she said. “We know that eating too much saturated fat might be linked to insulin resistance and this study gives us some insight into what’s actually happening inside the body.”

“The research didn’t involve any women and didn’t compare the effects of saturated fat to other foods like protein or unsaturated fat,” she added.

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