In a new study from Intermountain Heart Institute, researchers found intermittent fasting could increase a key protein that controls inflammation and protects the heart.
Intermittent fasting limits a person’s consumption of food and beverages to certain times of the day or week to achieve weight loss.
There’s no single way to practice it, though one popular routine involves alternating 24-hour periods of fasting with eating normally.
In the study, the researchers analyzed data from a clinical trial that had participants fast twice a week, drinking only water, for the first four weeks and then once a week after that.
The trial lasted 26 weeks, about six months. Those results showed fasting didn’t reduce LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol.”
The team hypothesized the mechanism might be similar to the way a class of drugs called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors works to lower Type 2 diabetes and heart failure risk.
The drugs also raise levels of a protein called galectin-3, which controls inflammation.
The new analysis, using 67 of the original trial participants’ levels of galectin-3 and other markers for heart failure, found that higher levels of the protein were associated with better scores on insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome evaluations.
The team says the increase in galectin-3 could be an adaptive response that prevents chronic disease by reducing inflammation.
Previous research had found that intermittent fasting was associated with a longer lifespan and a lower risk of developing heart failure.
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The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s virtual Scientific Sessions. One author of the study is Dr. Benjamin Horne.
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