Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago and elsewhere found that intermittent fasting plus exercise could reduce fatty liver disease.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition where too much fat is stored in the liver.
NAFLD is often asymptomatic, meaning that people may not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
It is a growing health concern worldwide, as it is closely associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
The condition ranges from simple fatty liver (steatosis), which is relatively harmless, to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
In a new study, researchers wanted to see if a combination of alternate-day fasting and exercise could help reduce this fat buildup in people with obesity and NAFLD.
They tested 80 adults aged 23 to 65 and divided them into four groups: a combination of alternate day fasting and exercise, alternate day fasting alone, exercise alone, and a control group with no intervention.
Over three months, the group that combined alternate-day fasting and exercise had the greatest reduction in intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content, which is a measure of liver fat, compared to the exercise and control groups.
The alternate-day fasting group alone had a significant reduction in IHTG content, but it was not significantly different from the combination group.
The researchers also found that body weight, fat mass, waist circumference, and alanine transaminase (ALT) levels decreased, while insulin sensitivity increased in the combination group compared to the control group.
However, there were no differences between the groups in terms of lean mass, HbA1c, blood pressure, blood fat, liver fibrosis score, and other liver health biomarkers.
The findings suggest that combining alternate-day fasting and exercise may be an effective way to reduce liver fat in people with NAFLD and obesity.
However, fasting alone may offer similar benefits, and further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
The research was published in Cell Metabolism and was conducted by Mark Ezpeleta et al.
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