Alternate-day fasting could benefit people with fatty liver disease

Credit: Sander Dalhuisen / Unsplash

In a study from the University of Illinois Chicago, scientists found people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who followed an alternate-day fasting diet and exercised were able to improve their health.

They found that over a period of three months people who exercised and alternated feast and fast days—eating without restriction one day and eating 500 calories or fewer the next—saw increased insulin sensitivity and decreased liver fat, weight and markers for liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a buildup of fat and inflammation in patients who drink little to no alcohol.

Approximately 65% of obese adults have the disease, and this condition is strongly related to the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.

In the study, participants were assigned to one of four groups: an alternate-day fasting group, an aerobic exercise group, a combined group and a control group in which participants made no changes to their behaviors.

Participants in the diet groups tracked their food intake and participants in the exercise groups used an elliptical machine for one hour, five days a week.

When the team compared the results of our study groups, they found clearly that the most improved patients were in the group that followed the alternate-day fasting diet and exercised five days a week.

The people who only dieted or only exercised did not see the same improvements.

This finding reinforces the importance of these two relatively inexpensive lifestyle modifications on overall health and on combating chronic diseases like fatty liver disease.

The team says the study did not test if alternate-day fasting was better or worse than other diets when combined with exercise.

In addition to seeing improved metabolic indicators, the team also noted there were no serious safety events during the trial—the patients were able to safely maintain the diet and exercise for the three-month study.

This suggests that the intervention may be a good option for people with fatty liver disease who want to improve their health without pharmaceuticals, which can have side effects.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about a new therapy for fatty liver disease, and 5 big myths about liver detoxing you should know.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies about all types of coffee could help lower the risk of chronic liver disease and results showing that Whole grains could benefit people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The study was conducted by Krista Varady et al and published in Cell Metabolism.

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