If you have been diagnosed with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), you have probably been told to lose weight.
Weight loss is, in fact, the only treatment option the traditional medical system has for NAFLD. And that’s not bad advice.
But a new study in the journal Scientific Reports reveals a simple, natural way to reverse NAFLD without necessarily losing weight.
This is excellent news for those of us struggling to shed those extra pounds.
A research team from the University of Eastern Finland and the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine knew that exercise had beneficial effects on NAFLD, mostly through weight loss.
But they wanted to know whether it also affected the metabolites produced by the body and intestinal bacteria.
Metabolites are substances that our bodies use to break down food, medicine, chemicals, or even its own tissue. Metabolites are also produced while these things are being metabolized.
The researchers recruited 46 people with NAFLD and divided them into two groups: a group of 21 subjects who were given two high-intensity interval training sessions per week together with one independent training session per week, and 25 subjects who did no exercise.
They told both groups not to change their diet and not to try to lose weight during the 12 weeks of the study.
At the beginning of the study and again after the 12-week intervention period, the researchers gave them a full medical examination and performed metabolomics analyses to identify the metabolites present in their fat, blood, urine, and feces.
These were their findings:
1. Exercise reduced their fasting glucose levels.
2. It increased their fitness in the form of maximum oxygen consumption rate and maximum achieved workload.
3. It reduced their waist circumference, meaning that they lost some of the unhealthiest type of fat.
4. It increased the concentrations of amino acids in their fat tissue. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and may have contributed here because of their ability to break down fat and glucose.
5. It changed the metabolites in their intestines, suggesting that the makeup of the bacterial colony in their intestines changed because of the exercise. One of these metabolites, called indolelactic acid, is, for example, responsible for breaking down glucose.
This means that exercise alone, even in the absence of healthy dieting and weight loss, can treat NAFLD by remedying some of its causal factors.
Interestingly, they found that high amounts of fat in their subjects’ blood were not altered by exercise alone, indicating that healthy dieting may be needed for a more complete solution to keeping fat at bay.
So, if you want a more complete solution to NAFLD, dieting must be part of the picture.