Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition where too much fat accumulates in the liver, even if the person doesn’t drink a lot of alcohol.
NAFLD can lead to serious health complications like liver cancer, cirrhosis, and heart disease.
To test whether physical activity (PA) and diet quality (DQ) could improve survival rates in people with NAFLD, a team of researchers at Indiana University looked at data from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
They studied 3,548 participants who had a Fatty Liver Index of 60 or higher.
The researchers measured PA using a wrist-worn device called an accelerometer, which tracked the participants’ movements.
They looked at two metrics: the average daily movement, which measured the volume of PA, and the highest 30 minutes of movement each day, which measured the intensity of PA.
They also assessed DQ using the Healthy Eating Index-2015.
The study found that higher levels of PA (both volume and intensity) were linked to lower all-cause mortality rates, meaning people were less likely to die from any cause.
However, the relationship between PA and mortality was not linear.
There was a point where adding more PA did not provide additional benefits, and the maximum protective dose for PA volume was observed at 14,300 MIMS/min, while the maximum protective dose for PA intensity was observed at 54.25 MIMS/min.
In addition, the study found that a better DQ was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates, and the maximum protective effect was observed at a DQ of 66.17.
This means that the healthier the person’s diet was, the lower their risk of dying from any cause.
The researchers also found that higher levels of PA (both volume and intensity) were linked to a lower risk of dying from heart disease, but not from cancer.
A better DQ, on the other hand, was associated with a lower risk of dying from both heart disease and cancer.
The study’s results held true across different groups, including men and women of different ages and ethnic backgrounds, and even people without NAFLD.
Overall, the study suggests that both PA and DQ are important for improving survival rates in people with NAFLD.
This means that getting enough physical activity and eating a healthy diet could help lower the risk of serious health complications like heart disease and cancer in people with NAFLD.
Managing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Here are some strategies that can help:
Lifestyle changes: The first step in managing NAFLD is to make lifestyle changes that can help improve the condition of the liver. This includes eating a healthy diet, losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, and getting regular exercise.
Diet: A healthy diet is crucial for managing NAFLD. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while avoiding sugary and processed foods.
It may be helpful to work with a registered dietitian who can help you develop a healthy eating plan that meets your specific needs.
Weight loss: Losing weight can help improve liver function and reduce inflammation in the liver. Aim to lose weight gradually, as rapid weight loss can actually worsen NAFLD.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve liver function, reduce inflammation, and promote weight loss. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking or cycling, on most days of the week.
Medications: There are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating NAFLD. However, some medications may be prescribed to treat related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which can improve liver function.
Avoid alcohol: Even if you have NAFLD without alcohol, it’s important to avoid alcohol completely. Alcohol can worsen liver inflammation and damage the liver further.
Remember, managing NAFLD is a long-term process that requires commitment and dedication to making lifestyle changes.
Work closely with your healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your specific needs and goals.
The research was published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology and was conducted by Eduardo Vilar-Gomez et al.
If you care about liver health, please read studies about dairy foods linked to liver cancer, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.
For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that alternate day fasting could benefit people with fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
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