Regularly fasting may cut type 2 diabetes risk

Regularly fasting for 24-hour periods may help individuals reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and lower their overall risk of heart disease, according to a new study from researchers at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center.

The findings, which were recently presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, showed that participants had lower cholesterol levels, less body weight and healthier blood sugar levels. These benefits added up to a reduction in type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.

The researchers said that their study confirms the findings of earlier investigations, which showed similar benefits to fasting. However, the new study adds to those findings, as it is the first to note an improvement in cholesterol levels after fasting. Additionally, the team showed an increase in human growth hormone levels, a protein that protects lean muscle, making fasting easier.

"Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body," said Dr. Benjamin Horne, who led the study. "This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance or diabetes."

While the study showed promising results, Horne said that it may be too early to recommend this regimen to patients who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. The study of the biological effects of fasting is still relatively new and all of its consequences may not be entirely clear.

However, he believes that fasting could hold tremendous promise and may eventually be used to help people reduce their type 2 diabetes risk.
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