Health & Wellness

Informative Truth About Intermittent Fasting: Risking Your Heart?

Intermittent Fasting May Put Your Heart At Risk.

WFY BUREAU ASIA: Intermittent fasting, in which people only eat at specific times of day, has grown in popularity in recent years. However, a surprising recent study reveals that there may be reasons to be cautious: Researchers found that certain intermittent fasts had a higher risk of dying from heart disease.

At an American Heart Association convention in Chicago on Monday, the findings focused on a popular form of intermittent fasting known as “time-restricted” eating, which involves eating all of your meals in eight hours or less, resulting in at least a 16-hour daily fast.

The study analysed the food patterns of 20,000 people in the United States during 2003–2018. A study indicated that individuals who followed an eight-hour eating plan had a 91% higher chance of dying from heart disease compared to those who followed a standard dietary pattern of eating 12 to 16 hours daily.

The researchers found that people who already had a chronic illness or cancer were also at higher risk. People with pre-existing cardiovascular disease who followed a time-restricted eating pattern were 66% more likely to die from heart disease or stroke. Cancer patients, on the other hand, were more likely to die from the condition if they followed a time-restricted diet than those who ate for at least 16 hours per day.

The study’s findings imply that people who practice intermittent fasting for an extended period of time, particularly those with pre-existing heart problems or cancer, should exercise extreme caution.

Current information suggests that focusing on what people eat is more essential than the timing of their meals.

Researchers have conducted several studies to understand how eating within a limited window each day impacts “hard endpoints” like heart disease and mortality.

We anticipated that long-term use of eight-hour time-restricted eating would be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death and even all-cause mortality.

Decreased Lean Muscle Mass

The findings did not explain why time-restricted eating raised a person’s health risks. However, the researchers discovered that people who followed a 16:8 time-restricted eating pattern, which involves eating for eight hours and fasting for 16, had less lean muscle mass than people who ate throughout the day. A recent clinical experiment published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicated that following a time-restricted diet for three months resulted in higher muscle loss than a control group without intermittent fasting.

It is critical to maintain muscle mass as you get older. It protects you against falls and impairment and can improve your metabolic function. Low muscle mass has been associated with increased mortality rates, particularly from heart disease.

The study discovered a link between time-restricted eating and higher mortality, but it was unable to demonstrate cause and effect. It is likely, for example, that those who limited their meal consumption to an eight-hour window had other habits or risk factors that contributed to their increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The experts also stated that the study was based on self-reported dietary information. It’s conceivable that individuals didn’t always precisely describe their meal times.

A Fashionable Form Of Dieting And Weight Management

Celebrities and health experts have widely promoted intermittent fasting, claiming that it leads to weight loss and a range of other health benefits. Another method of intermittent fasting is to alternate fasting days with normal eating days. Some people follow the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally five days a week and then fasting for two days.

However, time-restricted eating is widely considered the most straightforward form of intermittent fasting for people to follow, as it eliminates the need for full-day fasts. It also usually does not involve severe food restrictions. Adherents frequently eat or drink whatever they want during the eight-hour eating window; the only restriction is that they do not eat at other times of the day.

Early research indicated that time-restricted meals can prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome in mice. Small clinical trials in humans have shown that time-restricted eating can lead to weight loss and improved blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. These studies were short-term, spanning one to three months, and some found no benefit.

In 2022, the New England Journal of Medicine published one of the most rigorous studies on time-restricted eating. Researchers discovered that obese individuals on a low-calorie diet, instructed to eat only between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day, did not lose any more weight than those who consumed the same number of calories throughout the day without any restrictions on when they could eat. Both diets exhibited comparable impacts on blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and other metabolic indicators.

According to the data, any benefits of time-restricted eating are most likely the effect of eating fewer calories.

Additional Questions On Intermittent Fasting

During an interview, Christopher Gardner, the director of nutrition research at the Stanford Prevention Research Centre, stated that consumers should approach the new study with “healthy scepticism.” He stated that, while the findings were fascinating, he would like to see all of the data, including any potential demographic variations among the study subjects.

“Did they all have the same amount of disposable income and experience the same level of stress?” he continued. “Or is it that the people who ate less than eight hours a day worked three jobs, had very high stress, and didn’t have time to eat?”

Gardner stated that studying intermittent fasting can be difficult because there are so many variables, and understanding its impact on longevity necessitates constantly monitoring people for extended periods of time.

However, he stated that the evidence supporting intermittent fasting for weight loss and other outcomes is currently equivocal, with some studies indicating short-term advantages and others showing no benefit at all. “I don’t think the data is very strong for intermittent fasting,” he said. “One of the challenges in nutrition is that just because something works really well for a few people doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone.”

He stated that his main concern about intermittent fasting is that it does not address diet quality. “It doesn’t say anything about choosing poorly when you’re eating,” he went on to remark. “What if I have an eight-hour eating window but consume Pop Tarts, Cheetos, and Coke throughout that time? I’m not a fan of the long run. I believe that is possibly harmful.”

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