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Fasting Reduces Inflammation

Fasting Reduces Inflammation

Fasting Reduces Inflammation And Lowers The Risk Of Developing Chronic Diseases

It has long been known that fasting reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of developing chronic diseases. Fasting is an ancient practice that has been used by various cultures and religions for centuries. It involves abstaining from food and sometimes drink for a specific period of time.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “the best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”

One of the beneficial health benefits of fasting is its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation occurs when there is continuous activation of the immune system, even when there is no apparent threat. This prolonged state of inflammation damages healthy tissues and organs, leading to various health conditions.

The Link Between Chronic Inflammation And Illness

Chronic inflammation often leads to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, which are symptoms of arthritis. This condition affects the joints and surrounding tissues. Inflammation in the airways can cause asthma attacks, making it difficult for a person to breathe.1

Chronic inflammation damages the lining of blood vessels, leading to conditions such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.2 Chronic inflammation causes the immune system to attack healthy tissues in the body, resulting in autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.3

Chronic inflammation also plays a role in the development of depression, as it affects brain function and neurotransmitter levels.4 Inflammation in the digestive tract leads to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.5

Since fasting reduces inflammation, we have a simple, free, and healthy way to innately lower our risk of developing a wide range of chronic conditions.

Intermittent Fasting Reduces Inflammation

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting, which involves alternating periods of eating and fasting, can help reduce inflammation in the body. This is because during fasting periods, the body switches from using glucose as its main source of energy to burning fat. This process, known as ketosis, produces molecules called ketones, which have anti-inflammatory effects.6

Fasting Decreases Inflammatory Markers

Fasting has been found to decrease the production of inflammatory markers in the body, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These markers are associated with chronic inflammation and have been linked to various diseases.7

Fasting Reduces Inflammation By Increasing Arachidonic Acid Levels

A brand new 2024 study has pinpointed another specific reason fasting exhibits its anti-inflammatory effects. The key player here is a molecule called arachidonic acid (AA), whose levels increase when fasting. Researchers noticed that AA put a brake on the activities of a protein complex, NLRP3 inflammasome, known for triggering inflammation. Other related molecules didn’t influence NLRP3 much, confirming AA’s significant role. The research also found that certain enzymes and proteins involved in inflammation are regulated by AA.8

Fasting Reduces Inflammation By Increasing Arachidonic Acid Levels

Health Benefits Of Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is essential for human health. It is found in various foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products. Our body also has the ability to produce AA from other types of fatty acids. Despite its controversial reputation, arachidonic acid plays an important role in maintaining our overall health.9

Arachidonic acid is a key component of brain cell membranes. This essential fatty acid plays a crucial role in maintaining proper communication between brain cells and promoting healthy brain function.10

Arachidonic acid is also important for heart health. It helps in the formation of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that play a key role in regulating blood pressure and inflammation in the body. These prostaglandins also help prevent blood clots from forming, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.11

Arachidonic acid is essential for muscle growth and repair. During physical exercise, our muscles undergo small tears that need to be repaired for them to grow stronger. AA plays a crucial role in this repair process by promoting the growth of new muscle cells and reducing inflammation in the muscles.12

Arachidonic acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps regulate immune system function. It plays a key role in the production of inflammatory mediators, which are essential for fighting off infections and healing injuries.13

Fasting Reduces Inflammation By Reducing Monocytes

A 2019 study spotlighted another way fasting decreases inflammation in the body. Intermittent fasting has shown to significantly reduce the amount of inflammation-causing cells, known as ‘monocytes’, in the blood. A reduction in monocytes resulted in less inflammation in individuals practicing intermittent fasting in comparison to others.14

Fasting More Than 24 Hours Reduces Cellular Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Fasting for more than 24 hours can have a positive impact on reducing cellular oxidative stress. The mechanisms behind this phenomenon include decreased reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased antioxidant enzyme activities, improved energy metabolism, boosted cellular protection, and reduced inflammation.15

Fasting More Than 24 Hours Reduces Cellular Oxidative Stress

Fasting Reduces Insulin Resistance

Fasting improves insulin sensitivity and reduces insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, causing glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream instead of being transported into cells for energy. Insulin resistance contributes to chronic inflammation.16

Fasting Helps With Weight Loss

One of the main reasons why fasting is effective for weight loss is because it helps increase metabolism. When we eat, our body breaks down food into glucose and stores it as energy. Any excess glucose that is not used immediately gets stored as fat. However, when we fast, our body is forced to use up its stored energy, including fat stores, in order to function. This leads to an increase in metabolism and ultimately, weight loss.17

Fasting can also help with weight loss by encouraging healthy eating habits. Since fasting restricts when we can eat, it forces us to pay closer attention to what we are consuming during the times we are allowed to eat. This generally leads to choosing healthier, more nutritious foods instead of reaching for snacks and junk food.18

Read more about losing weight with intermittent fasting.

Fasting Improves The Microbiome

One of the many benefits of fasting is its positive impact on the microbiome which is the collection of microorganisms that reside in our gut. These microorganisms play a crucial role in our overall health, from digestion and immune function to mood and brain health.19

When we fast, our gut goes into a state of rest. This means that there is no food passing through our digestive tract, giving the bacteria and other microorganisms a break from their usual work. As a result, they are able to focus on other important tasks such as repairing damaged cells and fighting off harmful pathogens.20

Additionally, fasting has been shown to increase the diversity of the microbiome. This means that there is a greater variety of microorganisms present in the gut, which is important for maintaining a balanced and healthy microbiome. A lack of microbial diversity has been linked to various health issues such as obesity, autoimmune diseases, and even mental health disorders.21

In a study conducted on mice, researchers found that intermittent fasting led to an increase in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs are important for maintaining gut health and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.22 In another study, it was discovered that fasting can also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria like Clostridium.23

Furthermore, fasting has been found to improve the gut barrier function. The gut barrier acts as a protective layer between our intestines and the rest of our body, preventing harmful substances from entering our bloodstream. When this barrier is compromised, it leads to various health issues including inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Fasting has been shown to promote the production of a protein called zonulin, which helps maintain the integrity of the gut barrier.24

Read more about how the microbiome influences health.

Fasting Improves The Microbiome

Fasting Improves Brain Function

Fasting can also improve brain function by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of brain cells. BDNF has been linked to improved cognitive function, reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and enhanced mood.25

Fasting Regenerates The Body

One of the key mechanisms behind the benefits of fasting is autophagy. Autophagy is a natural process in which the body breaks down and recycles old or damaged cells and cellular components. This process is crucial for maintaining overall cell health and function. Deficiencies in autophagy have been linked to a variety of diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and metabolic conditions.26

Fasting also promotes the production of human growth hormone (HGH), which has anti-inflammatory properties. HGH helps repair and regenerate cells in the body, including those that play a role in inflammation.27

Fasting Reduces Inflammation And Lowers The Risk Of Developing Chronic Diseases

Fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of developing chronic diseases. By limiting our food intake and giving our bodies a break from constantly digesting and processing food, we allow our immune system to focus on repairing and rejuvenating itself. This leads to decreased levels of inflammation in the body, which is a key factor in the development of chronic diseases.

Read more about the benefits of fasting.

References

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2 Henein MY, Vancheri S, Longo G, Vancheri F. The Role of Inflammation in Cardiovascular Disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 26;23(21):12906. doi: 10.3390/ijms232112906. PMID: 36361701; PMCID: PMC9658900.

3 Duan L, Rao X, Sigdel KR. Regulation of Inflammation in Autoimmune Disease. J Immunol Res. 2019 Feb 28;2019:7403796. doi: 10.1155/2019/7403796. PMID: 30944837; PMCID: PMC6421792.

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8 Pereira, M., Liang, J. J., Edwards-Hicks, J., Meadows, A. M., Hinz, C., Liggi, S., Hepprich, M., Mudry, J. M., Kim, H., Griffin, J. L., Fraser, I. D. C., Sack, M. N., Hess, C., & Bryant, C. E. (2024). Arachidonic acid inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome is a mechanism to explain the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting. Cell Reports, 43(2), 113700. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2024.113700

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12 Markworth JF, Mitchell CJ, D’Souza RF, Aasen KMM, Durainayagam BR, Mitchell SM, Chan AHC, Sinclair AJ, Garg M, Cameron-Smith D. Arachidonic acid supplementation modulates blood and skeletal muscle lipid profile with no effect on basal inflammation in resistance exercise trained men. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Jan;128:74-86. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2017.12.003. Epub 2017 Dec 11. PMID: 29413364.

13 Zhang Y, Liu Y, Sun J, Zhang W, Guo Z, Ma Q. Arachidonic acid metabolism in health and disease. MedComm (2020). 2023 Sep 20;4(5):e363. doi: 10.1002/mco2.363. PMID: 37746665; PMCID: PMC10511835.

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15 Motori, E., & Puyal, J. (2013, December 13). Inflammation-Induced Alteration of Astrocyte Mitochondrial Dynamics Requires Autophagy for Mitochondrial Network Maintenance: Cell. https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(13)00454-3

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