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Fasting reverses liver disease—and a bad diet

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Intermittent fasting can reverse liver disease.

The 5:2 fast—where you don’t eat, or eat only small amounts, two days a week—is the most effective to halt fatty liver disease, a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis and even liver cancer.

It’s invariably the result of an unhealthy diet, but it can be reversed by fasting, say researchers from the German Cancer Research Centre.  

They tested several fasting techniques, including 6:1—when the fast in for just one day a week—and 24 and 12-hour fasts; the extent of the unhealthy diet dictated the frequency of the fasting cycles, they said, but found that the 5:2 was the most effective.

In tests on laboratory mice, the researchers gave one group a high sugar diet that mimics the standard Western processed diet and they went on to gain weight and body fat, and developed chronic liver inflammation; the other group was given the same diet for five days, but ate nothing the other two days, and they didn’t put on any weight, showed fewer signs of liver disease and had lower biomarkers of liver damage.

The researchers discovered that fasting releases two molecules that break down fatty acids, precursors of liver inflammation.

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References
Cell Metabolism, 2024; doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2024.04.015
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