Taking nutritional supplements is a common practice among the people around the world today. These can be either taken for combating a health condition or deficiency as well as prevention.
Some supplements have become popular due to the benefits they offer such as fish oil supplements. Fish oil is recommended for people from different age groups from children to older adults.
Up till now, all the studies on taking fish oil had mostly highlighted the advantages of the supplement like stronger immunity and provided the pros of taking it regularly or giving it to children.
However, a new research has shown that a long-term consumption of fish oil, as well as the infamous sunflower oil, may increase the risk of developing a fatty liver disease.
The researchers in the study observed rats and discovered that a long-term consumption of both sunflower and fish oil caused alterations in the liver which raises the chances of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a far more complicated and harder to treat health condition than the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The co-author of the research Jose Luis Quiles who is a professor of physiology at the University of Granada in Spain along with her fellow researchers had their study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
According to data on NAFLD and NASH, twenty percent of the people who have non-alcohol fatty liver disease also tend to have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The problem becomes more prevalent with age.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is the amalgamation of fat in the liver that is not triggered by liver damage, consumption of alcoholic drinks, and inflammation. The damage that comes with the condition is serious enough to accelerate the risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
The top reasons for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis are high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity or being overweight and high cholesterol.
In addition, the diet of a person also matters a lot especially when he/she suffers from one of the mentioned conditions.
Studying the link between non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and diet, the recent study from researchers at the University of Granada stated that the type of oils consumed by a person can impact the chances of developing the health problem later in life.
The study was conducted by looking at and analyzing the outcomes of different types of dietary fats including fish oil, sunflower oil, and virgin olive oil on the livers of rats.
The researchers looked carefully at how the lifelong consumption on each of the mentioned dietary fats affects the function and structure of the liver of rats along with oxidative stress, liver fibrosis, effects on gene expression, and the length of telomeres.
Telomeres are the caps located at the end of each strand of DNA and are responsible for the protection of chromosomes. A shorter length of telomeres means that there is a higher risk of damage to the cells.
According to the research on telomeres and their length, a reduction in the length can increase the chances of age-related diseases and cellular aging but too long telomeres can also increase the risk for cancer.
Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the free radicals. Free radicals are molecules which have the ability to damage the body’s function of de-oxidization of harmful molecules as well as damage cells.
The researchers also took into account how the different oils affected the liver during the process of aging.
Not only did the team find that the liver stores more fat with age but that the type of accumulation of fat is dependent on the type of fats consumed by the particular person.
According to Professor Quiles, this means that the liver of some people may age in a far healthier way with lesser chances of developing related diseases than others regardless of the build-up of fat.
Additionally, the study found that sunflower oil and fish oil were both harmful and affected the livers of the rodents negatively.
Sunflower oil was seen to cause alterations in the structure of the liver with an increase in oxidative stress and gene expression. This may also trigger liver fibrosis.
Rodents who were given fish oil were seen to have a decrease in electron transport chain in the mitochondria which can lead to impairment of the cell function.
Secondly, the team also noticed an increase an increase in cell oxidation in the livers of the rats. Fish oil was also reported to increase the length of telomeres.
Olive oil was seen to have the least negative effects on the livers of the rodents. In conclusion, the researchers suggested that olive oil is a far healthier option than any other oils including fish oil.
This study was surprising as fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed oil in the United States with its benefits backed up by medical literature. However, it is equally important to look at this study and re-consider which oils to use in daily life.