Monday, July 23, 2007

Intermittent Fasting - reduces inflammation

UPDATE - MARCH 2008 - More recent fasting research is posted here

Intermittent Fasting has been receiving a lot of interest lately from several quarters. There are different approaches to this, for example eating every other day or the practice of compressing the window of time during which you eat, for example through only eating between 5pm and 10pm. An accessible introduction to this approach is the free Fast 5 book which yo can download here. Animal models indicate that there are many benefits to be had from eating this way. Some of the researchers looking at how man eats "in the wild" also say that this is how we are supposed to eat. Check out Loren Cordain's analysis here.

It is also the approach of the Warrior Diet and of Art Devany's thinking (although he would add a randomised element to the eating pattern)

Anyway, the article below notes how this model of eating also reduces inflammation, something that we will see is a major problem and increasingly implicated in many diseases.

Interleukin-6, C-Reactive Protein and Biochemical Parameters during Prolonged Intermittent Fasting
Fehime B. Aksungara, Aynur E. Topkayab, Mahmut Akyildizc

Background: It is well known that nutritional habits, sleeping patterns and meal frequency have profound effects on maintaining human health. Ramadan is a religious month for Islam, during which Muslims do not eat and drink during the daylight hours. The duration of restricted food and beverage intake is approximately 12 h/day for 1 month, which makes Ramadan a model of prolonged intermittent fasting. Methods: In order to evaluate the effects of long-lasting modifications of food intake on inflammatory markers and biochemical parameters 40 healthy volunteers of normal weight [20 females aged between 20 and 38 years, 20 males aged between 23 and 39 years, body mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2] who fasted during Ramadan and another 28 healthy age- and BMI-matched volunteers (14 males, 14 females) who did not fast participated in the study. Venous blood samples were taken 1 week before Ramadan, during the last week of Ramadan and 3 weeks after Ramadan. Serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, vitamin B12, folate, total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels were measured. Results: No significant changes were observed in serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL levels. TC/HDL ratio (HDL risk factor) was decreased during and after Ramadan in both genders in the fasting group while there were no changes in the nonfasting group. IL-6 (p < 0.001), CRP (p < 0.001) and homocysteine (p < 0.01) levels were significantly low during Ramadan in the fasting subjects of both genders when compared to basal values (1 week before Ramadan). Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that prolonged intermittent fasting in a model like Ramadan has some positive effects on the inflammatory status of the body and on the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as homocysteine, CRP and TC/HDL ratio.

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