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Regular fasting is associated with a longer lifespan
Numerous scientific studies have shown that fasting has a positive effect on health. According to two new studies, regular fasting is associated with a lower rate of heart failure and a longer lifespan.
As the American Heart Association reports, researchers want to shed new light on the centuries-old debate of how fasting affects health. Recent studies have shown that it helps lower blood pressure, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
A 45 percent lower mortality rate
A 2017 study showed that intermittent fasting (intermittent fasting) was just as effective at losing weight and not gaining weight as daily calorie reduction.
The new studies focused on data from patients being screened for heart disease in Utah and other states. The investigation included hundreds of members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, also known as Mormons, who typically fast up to 24 hours on a Sunday in the month.
In the first study, published in the journal "Circulation", the researchers examined how fasting affects lifespan. About 2,000 people who underwent cardiac catheterization were observed for an average of 4.4 years, including 389 “routine fasters” who have been fasting regularly for at least five years.
The scientists found that “routine fasters” had a 45 percent lower mortality rate during the follow-up period than those who did not fast.
"It's very interesting ... it's a more profound impact than we expected," said study author Dr. Benjamin Horne, who recently presented the preliminary results at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.
Horne was also involved in the second fasting study, which was also published in the journal "Circulation". Using the same patient data, this was used to examine how routine fasting affects heart failure and myocardial infarction.
There was no significant difference in heart attacks, but routine fasters had a 71 percent lower heart failure rate than those who did not fast.
"It's a big difference, and frankly, it was a little unexpected," said Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Weakness of the study
Krista Varady, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, spoke of “an important study that has never been done. There are many short-term clinical trials for intermittent fasting, but we definitely don't have long-term data in humans to determine whether it can prevent heart failure, for example. ”
Varady, who was not involved in the research, said the study was limited by the fact that most of the fasting were Mormons. "They have a very different lifestyle than the average American," she said. “For example, they don't smoke, they don't drink alcohol and they are physically more active. It makes sense that they live longer and have a lower risk of heart disease. ”
Health benefits from long-term fasting
Although the researchers adjusted some of these factors, she said, "It is very difficult to tell the effects of fasting against an otherwise healthy lifestyle in this population, even though statistical corrections have been made."
A number of popular nutritional trends encourage people to limit their food to eight to twelve hours and fast the remaining twelve to 16 hours. However, participants in the two new studies fasted even more hours each day for an average of 42.2 years, Horne said.
"We believe that long-term fasting once a day, once a month, for decades will cause the body to activate these beneficial mechanisms," said the researcher. And over such a long time, the health benefits increase.
Further investigations are required
Horne indicated that this was an observational study that did not examine the relationship between cause and effect. He would like to see future studies examining why fasting appears to protect against heart failure, and he also called for a comprehensive study of the psychological benefits of fasting.
"Some people who have started fasting say that they unexpectedly feel like they have more self-control over their appetite," he said. "There may be a direct consequence between fasting and strengthening the mind, which enables people to eat better."
Varady called for future studies that target people who restrict eating in a variety of ways - such as temporary fasting or intermittent fasting. "This is a good first step, but we have to do long-term research on different people who practice different types of fasting." (Ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- American Heart Association: Regular fasting could lead to longer, healthier life, (accessed: November 27, 2019), American Heart Association
- JAMA Internal Medicine: Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults, (accessed: November 27, 2019), JAMA Internal Medicine
- Circulation: Abstract 11123: Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle and Human Longevity in Cardiac Catheterization Populations, (access: November 27, 2019), Circulation
- Circulation: Abstract 10043: Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle and Incidence of Heart Failure and Myocardial Infarction in Cardiac Catheterization Patients, (accessed: November 27, 2019), Circulation