Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver disorder worldwide. With no known treatment, this recent study proposes the benefits of taking probiotics and prebiotics to help alleviate symptoms.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent liver disorder worldwide and the only proven treatment strategy is to manage the symptoms with weight loss and lifestyle modification. However, patients with NAFLD who have a normal to low Body Mass Index (BMI) cannot opt to adopt such a treatment strategy. Instead, a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that low-BMI patients with NAFLD take synbiotics — a combination of probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) and prebiotics (fermentable foods that benefit probiotics).
The subjects eligible for this study had NAFLD for a minimum of 6 months. NAFLD was diagnosed by the presence of steatosis (accumulation of fat in the liver), elevated levels of specific liver enzymes, and a score of fatty liver accumulation based on an ultrasound. Subjects were 18 or older with a BMI score of 25 or less and no history of alcoholism or predisposition to liver disease. A total of 50 subjects were recruited based on these parameters and were randomly assigned to take either a synbiotics pill or a placebo pill. Pills were taken twice daily for 28 weeks, with a follow-up every 7 weeks. Follow-ups included a battery of tests including BMI calculation, immune system check-ups, metabolism, and liver health.
The results of the study showed that taking synbiotics was beneficial to improving liver health in patients with NAFLD. Considering this study was double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled, the results strongly suggest the use of synbiotics to help manage the symptoms of NAFLD. The main feature of taking synbiotics was that it helped control the immune response to fatty liver and lower levels of inflammation.
Written By: Harin Lee, BSc