People may soon be receiving soy protein through expatriate health insurance policies if they suffer from fatty liver disease.
A study at the University of Illinois found this substance could substantially cut the accumulation of triglycerides and fat in the livers of obese men and women.
Furthermore, they revealed the reason this occurs is because soy restores part of the function of the key signalling pathways of this organ.
Healthy livers should contain only a small amount of fat or none at all and people who have fatty liver disease have an elevated risk of suffering from cirrhosis and having a stroke or heart attack.
The study, which was led by assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at the university Hong Chen, involved a comparison between the levels of fat in obese and lean rats.
These animals were put on a diet containing one of two proteins – either casein, which comes from milk, or an isolated protein from soy – for 17 weeks after weaning.
While the thinner rats were not affected by the nutritional regimen either way, the fatter creatures that were fed soy had a 20 per cent reduction in overall fat accumulation and triglycerides in the liver when compared with those that took casein.
Researchers also realised the substance from soy could partially restore a crucial pathway for the metabolism of fat.
Scientists verified this finding by embarking upon studies of in-vitro cell cultures.
This led Ms Chen to think soy protein could help people with fatty liver disease and might alleviate some of their symptoms.
"When fat accumulates in an organ that's not supposed to store fat, like the liver, that organ's vital function can be dangerously compromised," she remarked.
"In many obese persons, there's a sort of traffic problem and when more fat can make its way out of the liver, there is less pressure on that organ," the specialist added.
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