Simply following a healthy diet may not be enough when it comes to liver health. At least that’s what researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin discovered recently after looking at the health records for more than 9,000 U.S. adults.
According to their findings, how often we eat during the day and what times we eat may be just as important as our food choices when it comes to supporting healthy liver function. Specifically, study leader Dr. James Esteban and his team focused on how dietary habits impact the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Otherwise healthy adults who spread out their calorie intake into several small meals during the day, who avoided late night/early morning meals, and who ate more of their daily calories in the morning were less likely to develop fatty liver. In contrast, skipping meals was linked to a higher risk of NAFLD—up to 73% higher in some participants. Researchers believe it has to do with a shift in our natural bodily rhythms.
“Modern society has seen a growing number of people working nights or staying up much later than before, which often upsets ‘normal’ sleeping and eating patterns. We are just beginning to explore if these changes have potentially harmful effects on our health,” Dr. Esteban said in a recent news release.