What to know about intermittent fasting after startling heart study

Posted at 3:04 PM, Mar 20, 2024

(WXYZ) — In recent health news that's causing quite a stir, intermittent fasting, a popular method for weight loss and reducing inflammation, has been flagged for potentially increasing the risk of serious health issues.

The American Heart Association has brought new findings to light that suggest this dietary trend might not be as beneficial as once thought.

The practice of intermittent fasting, has been a subject of much discussion. However, a study presented at the American Heart Association's recent conference in Chicago has unveiled startling findings.

According to this study, adults adhering to an eight-hour eating schedule might face a 91% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who spread their meals across 12 to 16 hours. These findings are preliminary, as highlighted by senior study authors.

They emphasized that while there's an association between a restricted eating window and increased cardiovascular death, causation hasn't been established. Clearly, more research is needed to fully understand the implications.

For people considering intermittent fasting, this calls for a cautious approach. The study, which analyzed dietary patterns of around 20,000 U.S. adults over 15 years, suggests that the timing of our meals can significantly impact our heart health, particularly for those already at risk due to existing conditions like heart disease or cancer. Interestingly, for individuals with cancer, extending the eating window to 16 hours or more might actually reduce the risk of cancer mortality. 

Yet, it's not all doom and gloom. There's still evidence suggesting intermittent fasting can benefit blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels.

The takeaway from Dr. Zhong and Christopher Gardner, director of nutrition studies at Stanford University, is a call for personalized dietary recommendations. They stress the importance of considering an individual's health status and the nutrient quality of their diet before recommending fasting windows. For those exploring intermittent fasting or any diet change, it's crucial to consult with your doctor. Understand that nutrition and health are deeply personal and what works for one may not work for another.

As we wait for more comprehensive research, let's focus on balanced, nutrient-rich diets and listen to our bodies. Stay informed and stay healthy.