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Intermittent Fasting Fears: Fact or Fiction?

Intermittent Fasting Fears: Fact or Fiction?

There were a lot of raised eyebrows in the medical and wellness community last month when preliminary findings of a study found potential negative effects from “time-restricted eating,” which is more commonly known as intermittent fasting and is a practice that has been historically linked to several health benefits.

Presented at an American Heart Association (AHA) conference, the study looked at approximately 20,000 adults in the U.S. from 2003-2018 who had tracked their eating habits for two days during a yearlong period. After comparing with CDC mortality data from the same time period, researchers found that those who ate all their meals within an 8-hour period had a 91% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those who ate their meals in a 12–16-hour period.

Until the full study is published, it’s unclear if researchers accounted for factors like smoking, physical activity, weight, or what people ate in their 8-hour period. While there aren’t typically any food restrictions when intermittent fasting, for it to work best it shouldn’t be a free-for-all. A good way to get your body the right nutrients is following the Mediterranean diet, which is regularly ranked as the top diet with a slew of positive impacts. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

While intermittent fasting has been shown to promote weight loss, improve energy and blood sugar levels, decrease brain fog, and reduce inflammation, it’s not for everyone. If you have diabetes, for example, a popular study showed those who ate more frequently had a lower risk of death from heart disease.

Another important finding from the AHA study is that those living with heart disease or cancer had an increased risk of cardiovascular death. In fact, an eating duration of 16 hours or more was found to lower the risk of dying from cancer. It’s important to pay particularly close attention to the dietary recommendations of your doctor if you face either of these issues.

As always, a healthy amount of activity and sleep, along with proper hydration, are key lifestyle elements for your best health. If you are curious about intermittent fasting, check with your doctor to see if it’s right for you before starting.