Diets

Insulin sensitivity levels are raised after eating just one fat loaded meal

by Barbara Hewitt on February 1, 2017

A single fatty meal of a burger and chips is enough to alter the body’s metabolism and trigger changes associated with diabetes and heart and liver disease, new research has found.

Changes can be found after just one such meal with the evidence showing that it can reduce sensitivity to insulin as well as immediately raising fat to levels in the body associated with heart disease.

Fast FoodThose who stay fit and healthy are more likely to be able to overcome the effects of a fatty meal, but eating high fat food on a regular basis is likely to increase the damage on the body, according to the research from the German Diabetes Centre in Germany.

The researchers gave 14 lean and healthy men aged 20 to 40 either given a vanilla flavoured palm oil drink or plain water. The palm oil drink contained a similar amount of saturated fat as an eight slice pepperoni pizza or a regular cheese burger served with a large portion of chips.

Tests showed that those drinking the palm oil recorded an immediate increase in fat accumulation and reduced sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. It also raised levels of triglycerides, a type of fat linked to heart disease, altered liver function and led to changes in gene activity associated with fatty liver disease.

A single high fat meal ‘would probably be sufficient to induce transient insulin resistance and impair hepatic [liver] metabolism,’ the study report says.

It also says that while the researchers presume that lean, healthy individuals are able to compensate adequately for excessive intake of saturated fatty acids, sustained and repeated exposure to such food will ultimately lead to chronic insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Palm oil was found to reduce insulin sensitivity by 25% in the whole body, while the mechanism that generates glucose sugar from non-carbohydrate foods became 70% more active.

Levels of glucagon, a hormone that stops blood sugar falling, were also raised. Similar effects were seen in mice given the same palm oil treatment.

‘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. While this study suggests that fat has a real impact on the liver, we need to be careful how we interpret the results,’ said Dr Emily Burns, research communications manager at charity Diabetes UK.

She believes more research needs to be done as the study did not involve any women and didn’t compare the effects of saturated fat to other foods like protein or unsaturated fat.

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The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.