There is an infallible remedy against the liver damage caused by a diet rich in sugars and fats, exercise! Yes, because running or walking at a brisk pace counteracts, through various processes, the accumulation of fat in the liver and thus the fatty liver and related diseases. This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Molecular Metabolism thanks to the collaboration between the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the Tübingen University Hospital (Hoene et al, Molecular Metabolism, Dec 2021).
The consequence on the liver of a diet that is too high in fat
A diet that is too abundant in sugar and fat and a sedentary lifestyle cause an imbalance between the energy introduced into the body and that expended. As a result, fats accumulate in the liver and the path to fatty liver opens up, a condition that is spreading more and more among the population. In the long run, the fatty liver causes an alteration in the functioning of the liver mitochondria. The mitochondria are the organelles of the cells responsible for the production of energy. The consequence is an increase in liver inflammation and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis. Not to mention that fatty liver itself is linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease. So, what can counter the effects of a diet that is too high in fat? The answer is physical exercise, as demonstrated by the research we are talking about today.
Aerobic physical activity counteracts fatty liver
The researchers developed a study conducted in the laboratory on a population of mice fed an unbalanced diet. Some of the mice were given aerobic exercise, namely running on a treadmill. What emerged was that physical exercise, through the greater demand for energy by the muscles, both during activity and at rest thanks to their greater development following training, made it possible to counteract weight gain, insulin resistance and the accumulation of triglycerides in the liver. However, the effects of physical activity do not end there. Indeed, it has been observed that physical exercise is able to act on the same mitochondria of the liver by reducing the accumulation of the enzyme acetyl coenzyme A caused by the unbalanced diet. As a consequence, the lipogenesis process stimulated by this enzyme is also reduced, that is, the process of formation of fats that would then accumulate in the liver. Therefore, physical exercise is able to counteract the effects of a diet high in sugar and fat not only by increasing energy expenditure, as could easily be hypothesized, but also by counteracting the adaptation of the liver to a condition of overeating with an action at the level of the liver cells itself. All of this leads to a reduced risk of developing fatty liver and hence inflammation, cirrhosis, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.