SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 7, 2011 -- The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet go beyond weight loss, even when weight loss isn't achieved. Researchers from St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, studied 12 patients without diabetes who had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and the results of their study demonstrated that liver health was improved even without weight loss. "Subjects had a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity, indicating a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This was demonstrated without weight loss, thus suggesting that a change in macronutrient intake alone without weight loss can improve metabolic health," said Marno Ryan, MBBS, MD.
Dr. Ryan, continues, "This small, highly controlled study demonstrated that a 6-week Mediterranean Dietary intervention could lead to a reduction of liver fat by 39% compared with a current recommended healthy diet. This has significant implications for patient care. Previously dietary studies in NAFLD have been lacking. We can now offer patients evidence-based dietary advice that will reduce their risk of diabetes and liver disease even without weight loss."
NAFLD is a cause of fat deposited in the liver and not associated with alcohol use; instead, it's associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndromes such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The condition could affect up to 30 percent of the US population, and can be detected through blood tests measuring for liver enzymes or ultrasound, but liver biopsy is the surest way of confirming NAFLD. All 11 subjects in this study had NAFLD confirmed by liver biopsy.
This study compared the Mediterranean Diet to the National Heart Foundation Diet, and concluded that the former diet significantly reduces both liver fat and inflammation and significantly improves insulin sensitivity. There was no significant change in any of these three measurements for patients while on the National Heart Foundation Diet. "Weight loss is difficult to achieve and maintain; however this has previously been the only accepted therapeutic strategy for NAFLD," said Dr. Ryan, "We have now demonstrated that adherence to the Mediterranean Diet can reduce liver fat, and improve insulin sensitivity, without weight loss, thus reducing the risk of development of liver disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus."
The Mediterranean Diet: Improvement in Hepatic Steatosis and Insulin Sensitivity in Individuals with NAFLD
AASLD is the leading medical organization for advancing the science and practice of hepatology. Founded by physicians in 1950, AASLD's vision is to prevent and cure liver diseases. This year's Liver Meeting®, held in San Francisco, California,November 4 – 8, will bring together more than 8,000 researchers from 55 countries.
A press room will be available from November 5 at the annual meeting. For copies of abstracts and press releases, or to arrange researcher interviews, contact Gregory Bologna at 703-299-9766.
Press releases and all abstracts are available online at www.aasld.org.
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