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Curb the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by adopting a Mediterranean diet

Multiple studies have found that eating more fish and plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains — typical components of the Mediterranean diet — contribute to good health even in old age. According to Harvard Medical School researchers, people who stick to a Mediterranean diet have a 46 percent higher chance of healthy aging than those who don’t. This means that they’re likely to live past the age of 70 without developing serious diseases or any major limitations in physical function and mental health.

Earlier studies have also shown that following the Mediterranean diet is an effective way of preventing heart attack, stroke and premature death. But scientists are now adding more to this eating pattern’s list of health benefits. In a recent study, Greek researchers reported that the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on the clinical, biochemical and inflammatory profile of people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), making it a suitable dietary intervention for the treatment of simple liver steatosis.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Mediterranean diet helps reduce biomarkers of NAFLD

Diet is a modifiable key factor and a target for the prevention or management of NAFLD. In an open-label, prospective intervention study that lasted for 24 weeks, the researchers looked at the potential relationship between diet composition, patient profile and the STAT3 rs2293152 genotype.

This genotype is one of many known polymorphisms, or mutations, of the STAT3 gene, which codes for a protein that’s heavily involved in critical cell functions. According to studies, the STAT3 protein plays an important role in glucose homeostasis and carbohydrate metabolism in the liver. As such, STAT3 polymorphisms are often associated with a wide range of diseases, from obesity and diabetes to autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

For their study, the researchers recruited 44 untreated NAFLD patients with non-significant liver fibrosis (scarring) and gave them nutritional counseling to increase their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which was estimated using MedDietScore. They also genotyped the patients to determine which ones had the STAT3 rs2293152 single nucleotide polymorphism and measured clinical and inflammatory biomarkers.

The researchers reported that the MedDietScore increased after counseling and anthropometric indices (e.g., weight, body mass index, etc.) improved after the intervention. Simultaneously, liver imaging, liver fibrosis scores, blood pressure, fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), C-reactive protein (CRP), visfatin and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels also significantly improved with greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet compared with baseline levels.

On the other hand, genetic analyses showed that there was no connection between STAT3 polymorphism and diet composition. Upon comparing patients with the G and C alleles, which are variants of the STAT3 gene, they found that only visfatin is significantly associated with the STAT3 rs2293152 genotype. Specifically, the G-allele was linked to increased levels of visfatin, a chemical produced by visceral fat tissue that has been linked to several inflammation-related conditions, including obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Consequently, STAT3 rs2293152 G-carriers experienced more beneficial changes from the Mediterranean diet compared with baseline measurements.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the Mediterranean diet can reduce clinical, biochemical and inflammatory biomarkers of NAFLD.

Other health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Despite being called a diet, the Mediterranean diet is about more than just eating fresh, plant-based foods, seafood and large quantities of olive oil. In fact, the Mediterranean diet also emphasizes engaging in physical activities regularly and sharing meals with others. Here’s what adopting this amazing and one-of-a-kind diet can do for you:

Following the Mediterranean diet is less about restricting your calorie intake and all about eating healthy. By increasing the amount of organic produce you consume and limiting your intake of red meat, processed foods and high-fat dairy products, you’ll be able to experience significant improvements to your overall health and even lose weight in a healthy, natural way.

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