How to enjoy delicious food and reduce the risk of complications of fatty liver disease
Nutrition researchers have discovered a key way for people with this disease to improve their health. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has been linked to obesity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good food. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that fasting between holidays effectively improves health.
Holidays meant that participants could eat without restriction; meanwhile, on fasting days, they had to consume 500 calories or less.
People who followed a fasting diet along with frequent exercise experienced increased insulin sensitivity and decreased weight and liver fat.
College of Applied Health Sciences Professor of Nutrients Christa Varadi commented on the findings.
Prof Varadi said: “When we compared the results of our study groups, we clearly saw that the greatest improvement in patients was in the group that followed an alternating diet and exercised five days a week.
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“People who only dieted or only exercised didn’t see the same improvements, which reinforces the importance of these two relatively inexpensive lifestyle modifications for overall health and for combating chronic diseases such as fatty liver disease.”
The three-month study involved 80 people suffering from non-alcoholic fatty disease.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups:
- Fasting group every other day
- Aerobic exercise group
- United group
- Control group.
In the diet groups, participants tracked their food intake, while participants in the exercise groups used an elliptical trainer in Varadi’s lab for one hour five days a week.
In addition to observing an improvement in metabolic parameters during the trial, there were also no major safety events.
Participants were able to safely maintain their diet and exercise regime during the 12-week study.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming more common worldwide.
In the initial stages of the disease, a person may feel tired and uncomfortable in the upper right side of the abdomen.
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As more fat accumulates in the organ, resulting in scar tissue, other symptoms may appear, such as:
- Bloating (ascites)
- Dilated blood vessels just below the surface of the skin
- Enlarged spleen
- red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
The NHS adds that high levels of liver fat have been linked to diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
“If you have been diagnosed with this condition, it would be a good idea to take steps to stop it getting worse,” the health authority says.
There are no specific medications that people can take to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The best way to prevent further health complications is to make “healthy lifestyle choices.”
It is clear from the study mentioned earlier that frequent exercise is a key component in reducing adverse health outcomes.
“You should aim for BMI [body mass index] 18.5-24.9,” says the NHS, starting with the idea that losing weight can help remove fat from the liver.
The NHS specifies: “Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking or cycling, per week.”
The research article is available in the journal Cell Metabolism.
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