Intermittent fasting and metabolic health: What to know

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Scientists from Wake Forest University and elsewhere suggest that intermittent fasting could benefit metabolic health.

Obesity in the United States is common and is a major health issue associated with numerous diseases, specifically an increased risk of certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, as well as strong increases in early mortality and economic costs.

Given the ongoing strain that the obesity epidemic has placed on public health outcomes, new and effective methods of weight control are needed.

One way to improve weight and metabolic outcomes are intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that includes hours or days of no or minimal food consumption without deprivation of essential nutrients.

It consists of multiple different timing schedules for temporary food avoidance, including alternate-day fasting, other similar full-day fasting patterns, and time-restricted feeding (where the day’s food is consumed over a 6-h period, allowing for 18 h of fasting).

Hundreds of animal studies and scores of human clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to improvements in health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurological disorders.

In the current review study, researchers suggested these feeding schedules have beneficial metabolic effects by intermittently inducing the metabolism of fatty acids to ketones.

The regimens overall lead to a decrease in weight and have been linked to improvements in dyslipidemia and blood pressure.

Human trials have mainly involved relatively short-term interventions and so have not provided evidence of long-term health effects, including effects on lifespan.

The team suggests that more research is needed on longer-term outcomes and that this approach should be avoided in particular health conditions.

However, Intermittent fasting should be considered as an option for people who have a pattern of unhealthy weight gain using standard eating patterns.

The research was published in Nutrients and conducted by Izzah Vasim et al.

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