Some form of fasting may be best for fighting inflammation – study

Fasting, scientists think, is a natural and relatively safe way to reduce inflammation in the body. At the same time, anecdotal reports abound that fasting helps alleviate this seemingly common health problem. But how, exactly, the diet does this, is still being investigated. Now, new preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Science Sessions in November is helping color some of the details about the anti-inflammatory properties of fasting, highlighting one type of fasting diet as potentially more potent than fasting. others.

Discovery – The research team found that people who followed a diet in which they fasted for 24 hours at least once a week for 26 weeks had elevated levels of galectin-3 compared to a control group of people who did not fast. . Galectin-3 is a kind of cell repair protein associated with the attenuation of inflammation.

The study involved 67 participants with metabolic problems related to inflammation, including type 2 diabetes and conditions that put them at risk for diabetes. Thirty-six participants were charged with following a program in which they consumed only water over a 24-hour period – initially they fasted twice a week for four weeks, and later once. per week for 22 weeks. The other 31 participants did not change their eating habits.

The researchers conclude that fasting on this schedule may have the same effects as inhibitors of SGLT-2, a class of drugs used to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

“From what we are seeing, periods of fasting have been used … as a sort of healing mechanism.”

Inflammation has a complex relationship with insulin resistance, the two mutually instigating each other in a compounding cycle. This may explain why the researchers also found lower levels of biomarkers associated with insulin resistance in the fasting group.

What’s new – The study is part of the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute research program that studies low-frequency intermittent fasting and its potential health benefits beyond weight loss.

“We’re more interested in the protective effects of the heart and metabolism,” explains Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute. Reverse.

“We expected the benefits of fasting to be primarily focused on improving the risk of diabetes and heart disease,” he said.

Can Intermittent Fasting Reduce Inflammation?

Here’s the background – Inflammation is how the immune system immediately heals wounds or fights bacteria. Chronic inflammation, which continues in the absence of such a situation, can wreak havoc in the body. It has also become a pathology of the day in recent years. A growing body of evidence links chronic inflammation to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, gout, arthritis, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, and Diabetes.

It could be that low-grade, long-term chronic inflammation is becoming more common because our pollutant-rich, chemically-watered environment prompts the immune system to always detect a bodily invader.

Several previous studies have also shown reductions in various biomarkers linked to inflammation in people and lab mice that go without food for long periods of time. The mechanisms are not well understood, and results are limited to metabolic signs of inflammation or control of inflammation, rather than long-term health benefits.

Muslims observing Ramadan volunteered for some of the early studies on fasting and inflammation. Majority World / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Horne says the effect may have its roots in our evolution. In an age when food was scarce – times that could be mimicked by fasting – individual tissues and organs could go into “a self-protective mode” and limit potentially harmful reactions like inflammation.

Ancient humans “survived periods of low food availability, they had mechanisms in their DNA that would help them survive,” he says.

Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, tells Reverse fasting can act as a reset for the body, overriding the emergency inflammatory response.

“From what we’re seeing, fasting times were used by all kinds of organisms, including humans, as a sort of healing mechanism,” says Longo. “So anytime someone had a major inflammatory problem, which could have been due to infection or injury, fasting was a natural way to activate the body’s innate way of repairing and replacing. “

What is “low frequency” intermittent fasting?

Fasting is simply abstaining from eating – many people do this on occasion for religious reasons. Intermittent fasting means fasting for one period and then eating for another. hours every day.

Longo believes that a longer period of fasting at a time is likely necessary to see an anti-inflammatory benefit from the practice – which works together with the results of the diet tested in the new study.

“If you fast every day for 10, 12, 16 hours, you may or may not have benefits from inflammation. There may be, but we are still in the early stages of understanding, ”he says.

In this study, the fasting period lasted for at least 24 hours, which brings it closer to the longer fasting period that Longo believes is effective in reducing inflammation.

However, more research is needed before scientists can say that such a diet is effective in reducing inflammation and how it might compare to other more established treatments and lifestyle choices designed to alleviate inflammation. chronic.


introduction: Intermittent fasting decreases cardiometabolic risk factors, the risk of heart failure (HF) and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Sodium-glucose transport inhibitors 2 (SGLT-2) reduce diabetes and the risk of IC and a study with canagliflozin reported that it increased levels of galectin-3 (Januzzi 2017). Previously, in the WONDERFUL trial (NCT02770313), intermittent fasting caused a decrease in the metabolic syndrome score (MSS) and the homeostatic model of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) assessment. This study evaluated the effects of intermittent fasting on galectin-3 in a post-hoc analysis of the WONDERFUL trial.

Methods: People aged 21 to 70 years were included who had ≥1 characteristic of metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes, were not taking antidiabetic drugs or statins, and had elevated LDL-C. Subjects had data on galectin-3 over 26 weeks (N = 67; n = 36 intermittent fasting, n = 31 controls). Subjects were randomized to a 24-hour fasting intervention with water only (fasting twice a week for 4 weeks, then once a week for 22 weeks) or a parallel control arm (ad libitum to eat). This study assessed the score for galectin-3 change at 26 weeks and other changes in HF biomarkers.

Results: At 26 weeks, the galectin-3 change score was increased on intermittent fasting (0.575 ± 2.63 ng / mL) compared to the control (-0.624 ± 2.79 ng / mL; p = 0.021). Changes in galectin-3 were inversely correlated with HOMA-IR change score (r = -0.288, p = 0.018) and MSS change score (r = -0.238, p = 0.052). Changes in galectin – 3-4 weeks (intermittent fasting: 0.345 ± 2.68 ng / mL; control: -0.465 ± 3.18 ng / mL; p = 0.27) and 13 weeks (fasting: 0.917 ± 4.96; control: – 0.097 ± 2.83 ng / mL; 0.15) were not significantly different. Type B natriuretic peptide decreased on intermittent fasting (-0.328 ± 12.29 pg / mL) but this was not significant compared to controls (15.50 ± 75.34 pg / mL, p = 0.23) . The other HF biomarkers remained unchanged.

Conclusion: 24 hour intermittent fasting with water only increased galectin-3. This increase in galectin-3 correlated with the decrease in HOMA-IR and MSS and may be similar to the reported effects of SGLT-2 inhibitors. Increasing galectin-3 may be an adaptive response that could prevent chronic disease by decreasing inflammation, improving insulin resistance, or altering related mechanisms.

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