Supplements containing branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) granules improved the outcome for patients with liver disease.

Liver cirrhosis is caused by advanced liver disease. The liver tissue is gradually replaced with scar tissue, resulting in a loss of liver function. This loss of liver function causes fluids to be retained in the abdominal cavity, leading to massive swelling and greatly reducing quality of life.

Liver cirrhosis can also lead to esophageal varices, which are dilated veins in the bottom of the esophagus. The dilated veins are formed when the blood flow through the liver is disrupted due to liver scarring. These veins often bleed, and must be treated with endoscopy.

The cirrhosis and complications results in lack of nutrition for the patient, as nutrients cannot be properly absorbed. Nutritional supplements are therefore part of the treatment.

An article in J Gastroenterol investigated the benefits of branched-chain amino acid enriched nutrients for patients with liver cirrhosis.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are essential amino acids, which mean we must get them from our food. BCAA’s are crucial to our wellbeing, as they not only create the antibodies which fight infection, but also make up our muscles and internal organs.

Sakai Y, Iwata Y, et al, researchers at the Hyogo College of Medicine, Japan, investigated the usefulness of BCAA supplements for liver patients undergoing endoscopic treatment for esophageal varices.

BCAA-enriched nutrients improve outcome for liver patients

The researchers gave patients BCAA-enriched nutrients, and evaluated their nutritional status over time. They examined weight gain and albumin on the first day, day seven, and day 50.

The BCAA-enriched nutrient mixture maintained the weight in the cirrhotic patients. Their non-protein respiratory quotients were also significantly improved.

The researchers concluded that including BCAA’s with nutritional energy supplements would be beneficial for cirrhotic patients undergoing endoscopic treatments.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24633624