In a new study from the University of Tsukuba, researchers found the positive effects, beyond the expected weight-loss benefit, of exercise on the liver.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disorder worldwide, affecting as much as a quarter of humanity.
It is characterized by fat accumulation in liver cells and may progress to inflammation, cirrhosis and liver failure.
NAFLD is associated with unhealthy behaviors such as overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. Many people with the disease will progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic dysfunction.
Weight reduction is fundamental to NAFLD management. Unfortunately, achieving a targeted bodyweight without supervision is difficult, and maintaining this over time is even more so.
In the study, the team compared data from obese Japanese men with NAFLD on a 3-month exercise program with those on dietary restriction targeting weight loss
The researchers found that exercise preserved muscle mass better, though with a modest decrease of body and fat mass.
Remarkably, the exercise program reduced liver steatosis by an additional 9.5%, liver stiffness by an additional 6.8%, and liver fibrosis by an additional 16.4%.
Additionally, the exercise regimen induced anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress responses through activation of the Nrf2 (nuclear factor E2-related factor 2), an oxidative stress sensor.
The research shows how exercise prevents liver steatosis and fibrosis in NAFLD and clarifies that this benefit is compounded by the preservation of muscle mass and is independent of weight changes.
They say patients on exercise regimens may become demotivated and drop out if they do not experience strong weight loss.
Therefore, moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise should be integrated into all NAFLD therapies, and patients at risk for NASH should be encouraged to persevere with moderate to high-intensity exercise regardless of whether or not they lose weight.
If you care about liver health, please read studies about which drug are most toxic to the liver? and findings of common diabetes drug may reverse liver inflammation.
For more information about liver diseases, please see recent studies about this green diet may strongly lower non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and results showing that this common hormone therapy may reduce common liver disease.
The study is published in JHEP Reports. One author of the study is Professor Junichi Shoda.
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