In a recent study, researchers find fasting every other day to lose weight impairs the action of sugar-regulating hormone, insulin, which may increase diabetes risk.
This suggests that fasting-based diets may be associated with long-term health risks and careful consideration is important before starting such weight loss programs.
Type-2 diabetes is a growing global epidemic often attributed to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, and it is closely linked to obesity.
Blood sugar is mainly regulated by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.
If insulin levels are too low, or the body becomes resistant to its effects, type-2 diabetes occurs and high blood sugar levels can cause serious health issues, including heart, kidney and eye damage.
In addition to treat type-2 diabetes with medications, patients are also advised to make lifestyle and dietary changes to lose weight.
Recently, intermittent fasting diets have gained general popularity for weight loss, however, evidence on their success has been contradictory.
There is a lack of knowledge and some debate on their potentially harmful long-term health effects.
Previous research has also shown that short-term fasting may cause damage to the body at a cellular and may be associated with impaired organ function, cancer risk and accelerated aging.
In the current study, researchers examined the effects of fasting every other day on the body weight, free radical levels and insulin function of normal, adult rats, over a 3-month period.
Although the rats’ body weight and food intake decreased as expected over the study period, the amount of fat tissue in their abdomen actually increased.
Furthermore, the cells of the pancreas that release insulin showed damage, with the presence of increased levels of free radicals and markers of insulin resistance were also detected.
The team suggest that despite weight loss, intermittent fasting diets may actually damage the pancreas and affect insulin function in normal healthy individuals, which could lead to diabetes and serious health issues.
The study was presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ECE 2018.
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