In a new study, researchers found that the combination of green tea extract and exercise may reduce the severity of the obesity-related fatty liver disease.
The finding may point to a potential health strategy for people.
The research was conducted by Penn State scientists.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a significant global health problem that is expected to worsen.
Because of the high prevalence of risk factors such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease is forecast to afflict more than 100 million people by 2030.
And there are currently no validated therapies for the disease.
In the study, the team tested mice with the fatty live disease caused by a high-fat diet.
Some mice were treated with green tea extract alone or exercise alone as the control group.
They found that the combination of green tea extract and exercise reduced the severity of obesity-related fatty liver disease by 75%.
In addition to analyzing the liver tissues of mice in the study, the researchers also measured the protein and fat content in their feces.
They found that the mice that consumed green tea extract and exercised had higher fecal lipid and protein levels.
The team says the mice that consumed green tea extract and exercised actually were processing nutrients differently—their bodies were handling food differently.
They think the polyphenols in green tea interact with digestive enzymes secreted in the small intestine and partially inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in food.
It may be important that mice treated with both green tea extract and exercise had higher expression of genes related to the formation of new mitochondria.
That gene expression is important because it provides markers that will help researchers understand the mechanism by which green tea polyphenols and exercise might work together to mitigate fatty liver deposits.
More research is needed to see if there is a synergy created by green tea extract and exercise working together to reduce fat deposited in the liver, or if the effects are simply additive.
The team believes people should engage in more physical activity, and replacing high-calorie beverages with decaffeinated, diet green tea—which has no calories—is a smart move.
One author of the study is Joshua Lambert, an associate professor of food science.
The study is published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
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