Fasting lowers cholesterol in prediabetics
Periodically fasting may help combat risk factors for diabetes, according to new research.
Scientists at the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, recruited prediabetic men and women between ages 30 and 69, who had at least three risk factors for diabetes, such as a large waistline, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol levels. Over the course of six weeks, the study participants periodically fasted, eating no solid foods and drinking water only.
At the end of the study period, the participants’ cholesterol levels were about 12 percent lower than they were at the beginning of the study. Looking at the participants’ biological processes, the researchers found that after 10 to 12 hours of fasting, the body began searching for alternate sources of energy and ultimately converted LDL (bad) cholesterol found in fat cells into energy. This process lowered diabetes risk factors by negating insulin resistance--the process during which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin which, in turn, leads to increased blood sugar levels.
Researchers said that the study’s findings, presented at the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, offer preliminary evidence about the potential health benefits of fasting for prediabetics. They added, however, that further research is needed in order to conclude how long and how often a person should fast in order to reap the health benefits.