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Is Intermittent Fasting Linked to Higher Cardiovascular Death Risk?

intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, a popular dietary trend, has recently come under scrutiny due to a startling claim made by a recent study. While intermittent fasting has gained popularity for its potential benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity among diabetics, this new research suggests that it may pose risks to heart health.

The Study Findings

The study, presented at an international conference, followed 20,000 adults from a US database over a period of eight to seventeen years. Here are the key findings:

  1. Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Death: Participants who consumed all their daily calories within an eight-hour window faced a 91% higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Among individuals already living with heart diseases, intermittent fasting raised the risk of death due to heart disease and stroke by 66%.
  2. Long-Term Impact: Unlike previous studies that focused on short-term benefits (such as weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity), this research delved into the long-term effects of intermittent fasting.

Why Might Intermittent Fasting Be Harmful?

Dr. Anoop Misra, Chairman of Fortis C-Doc Hospital for Diabetes and Allied Sciences in New Delhi, sheds light on potential reasons:

  1. Calorie-Dense Foods: People may overindulge in calorie-dense foods during their eating window. The misconception that one can eat anything during the eight-hour period can lead to unhealthy choices. Dr. Misra emphasizes that consuming pizzas and burgers for only eight hours a day is no healthier than eating them throughout the day.
  2. See-Saw Effect: Prolonged intermittent fasting may result in a see-saw effect that is not ideal for heart health. Dr. Misra explains that every meal causes a spike in sugar levels. Individuals with a more consistent insulin release pattern tend to have better cardiovascular outcomes.

Expert Recommendations

While the study’s data are not conclusive, experts caution against following intermittent fasting without consulting a doctor. It’s essential to weigh the potential benefits against the risks, especially for individuals with existing heart conditions.

In summary, while intermittent fasting remains a topic of interest, it’s crucial to approach it with caution and seek professional advice before adopting any dietary changes.

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