German scientists caution that eating just one meal loaded with unhealthy fats causes immediate changes in liver function that may pave the way for more serious problems in the future.
In a recent study, they asked 14 healthy young men to consume either a single dose of palm oil—the equivalent of a high-fat meal such as a greasy burger and fries—or a placebo. Both groups were then monitored to determine the impact on healthy liver function.
Based on the results of the study, the palm oil participants experienced a 70% increase in glucose production in the liver and a notable decrease in overall insulin sensitivity. The so-called “fat loading” also put added stress on healthy liver cells and made it harder for the liver to store glucose over fat. Over time, these effects may contribute to elevated blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes as well as liver disease.
“The effects mimic the abnormalities seen in people with severe metabolic disease,” said Dr. Michael Roden, one of the authors of the study. While further research is needed to determine how long the changes in liver function last after eating a high-fat meal, he and his colleagues stress the importance of following a healthy diet and choosing good fats such as olive oil over saturated fats or trans fats.