Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

about us





Junk food ruins your liver unnoticed

A diet that contains a lot of fat [especially saturated fat] and refined sugar, and little protein and fibre causes abnormalities in the liver even though you may appear to be in the best of health. Researchers at the Open University in Great Britain came to this conclusion after experiments they did with rats. The animals that were given food that mimicked an unhealthy Western consumption patter as soon as they could eat and drink had liver damage within a few months.

The researchers gave a control group standard RM3 feed. The experimental group got food that was 'enriched' with chocolate cake and eggs. The table below shows the composition of the two diets.

Junk food ruins your liver unnoticed

The rats in both groups weighed about the same. To the naked eye they did not appear to be different, and the researchers did not examine their body composition. Both groups ate the same amount.

When the researchers examined the rats' livers after fourteen weeks they got a surprise. The unhealthy diet had caused hepatic steatosis, or a fatty liver. The livers were enlarged and pale in colour. Doctors regard a fatty liver as an early stage of more serious liver diseases such as cirrhosis.

Junk food ruins your liver unnoticed

The researchers looked at the M1-dG molecule in the liver and blood of the test animals. M1-dG occurs as malondialdehyde, an aggressive compound that arises when fats oxidise and then attaches itself to the building blocks of the genetic material. It is a marker for damage from free radicals.

There was no relation between the marker and the junk food diet. A diet containing a lot of sugar and bad fats therefore does not damage the liver through a free radical mechanism.

The researchers also included a group of rats that received normal food that had only been 'enriched' with saturated fat, and not with sugar. These rats' livers were darker in colour, but not bigger. The conclusion of the British is that it's the refined sugar that is especially bad for the liver.

Nutrition Research 27 (2007) 38-47.