Your chair may be your liver’s worst enemy

Liver Health

By pH health care professionals

More and more research is pointing toward an unsuspected silent killer … your chair!

You’ve probably heard the news about studies linking prolonged sitting and inactivity with obesity, diabetes and heart disease -- but a new study from South Korea published in the Journal of Hepatology says there’s also evidence that all that sitting may be increasing your risk for liver disease.

Researchers found that prolonged sitting and decreased physical activity were independently associated with increased incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Study participants who sat for 10 or more hours a day had a greater risk for developing NAFLD than those who spent less than five hours a day sitting. And those who were physically active were less likely to develop NAFLD than those who were inactive.

So what is going on here?

Many of us spend our days sitting thanks to long commute times, desk jobs and a seemingly never-ending selection of TV shows to watch, stream and download. Unfortunately, more sitting means less moving. That sedentary lifestyle comes with more snacking and an unhealthy diet, research shows, and a host of other health problems including higher BMI, body fat content, insulin resistance and higher circulatory lipids – “all of which influence liver lipid content,” according to Michael Trennell, professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at Newcastle University, in an editorial accompanying the study.

“The message is clear, our chairs are slowly but surely killing us,” Trennell wrote.

How can you be proactive?

  • Reverse the curse of the chair! What’s the opposite of a sedentary lifestyle? An active one! Research shows exercise can improve liver lipids. And although there may not be a specific recommendation for exercise as it relates to NAFLD, a good place to start would be following the general guidelines for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 10,000 steps a day (for most people). If you have a specific medical condition or health concerns, or you are a senior citizen, you may want to talk to a qualified health care professional before starting up a new exercise regimen. Bored with exercising? Try something new!
  • Take a small step in the right direction. Doing a little is better than nothing at all. Even doing light activity instead of sitting may help reduce your risk for NAFLD, lead study author Dr. Seungho Ryu says.
  • Take breaks from sitting. Current research doesn’t really say exactly how much sitting is “too much,” Trennell commented in the editorial. “We just know that it is better to sit less than to sit more.” So, can you set a timer and remind yourself to walk, stand or stretch throughout your work day? Are there other activities you could try after work instead of watching television?
  • Test, don’t guess. According to the American Liver Foundation, fatty liver disease affects up to 25 percent of Americans, and often, there are no obvious symptoms. Be proactive and come talk to the pH health care professionals about what type of test would be best for you.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.