Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease | Running can keep the liver healthy


  • Running and weight training are two activities that can prevent a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), new search shows.
  • This may be because exercise helps reduce inflammation in your body and build lean muscle mass which can help replace fat, two factors that cause NAFLD.

    Running benefits your heart, brain and muscles, and new research suggests your liver may see the benefits too.

    A condition known as metabolic liver disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) involves fatty deposits in the liver that increase over time and negatively affect your mitochondria (which play a role in energy transformation that we get from food into energy that our cells can use). It can impact how you metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and can lead to organ damage if left untreated.

    A recent study in the review Molecular metabolism suggests that exercise may alter mitochondrial function enough to reduce the development of fatty liver deposits. The researchers fed mice a high-calorie diet to promote the development of liver fat, then had some of them train on a treadmill for six weeks. At the end of this period, those who had run showed more regulated liver enzymes and better mitochondrial activity.

    Previous studies in people have shown the same link between better liver function and regular exercise. For example, a Randomized clinical trial 2016 on those with NAFLD showed that vigorous and moderate exercise improved markers of liver health. And comment in 2018 in Gene expression noted that exercise increases fatty acid oxidation and prevents mitochondrial damage in the liver.

    Although the prevention of NAFLD may seem less important than other health risks like cardiovascular disease, cancer or dementia, the prevalence rate of the disease indicates that it is a health problem major and could get worse. When the disease progresses to a more serious form, it is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and causes swelling and damage to the liver.

    According to American Liver Association, about 1 in 4 people have NASH and most are between 40 and 60 years old. Up to a quarter of those affected develop cirrhosis, a delayed scarring of the liver that may require a transplant.

    A study 2018 estimates that NAFLD will increase by 21% between 2015 and 2030, while NASH is expected to increase by 63% over the same period. These researchers predict that deaths from these liver diseases will increase by 178% by 2030.



    “The good news is that lifestyle changes can make a big difference, both in preventing NAFLD, as well as controlling or even reversing the condition if you have it,” Jeff McIntyre, director of the NASH program for the Global Liver Institute, said The runner’s world.

    He said that in addition to regular activity like running, other lifestyle strategies include avoiding foods with added sugar – a potentially major cause of liver inflammation, he said. – and incorporate strength training into your routine, as lean muscle mass can help replace fat.

    “There are no approved drugs for NASH or NAFLD yet, so the primary prevention and treatment strategy is exercise and nutrition,” he said. “Plus, you’ll benefit other aspects of your body at the same time, like your cardiovascular system and your cognitive health. So movement really is medicine.

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