According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100 million adults in the US are living with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, and nearly 35 percent have metabolic syndrome.
Poor metabolic function and the comorbidities (aka having multiple conditions) that travel with it are a national health crisis. It will take more the "age old advice" like “eat less, exercise more” and “everything in moderation” to have a meaningful impact on our current state of health.
Intermittent fasting aka time-restricted eating (TRE) is an alternative tool in the arsenal that may be effective for improving cardiometabolic health even in the absence of a significant dietary change.
Research published last month in the journal Cell Metabolism adds more data to the growing body of literature supporting a role for time-restricted eating (TRE) as an intervention for individuals with chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. The paper’s title sums it up: “Ten-Hour Time-Restricted Eating Reduces Weight, Blood Pressure, and Atherogenic Lipids in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome.” The study is worth looking at, especially considering human trials of TRE are limited. (Most of the research has been done in animals.)
The results were promising. On the whole, subjects lost weight (particularly abdominal fat, for a smaller waist circumference), had reduced blood pressure, lower LDL and non-HDL cholesterol, lower HbA1c (blood glucose), and reported more restful sleep. And to top it off, this was accomplished with no change in physical activity.
Regarding caloric intake, it would be natural to assume that going a few hours longer without consuming any food would automatically result in a substantial reduction in calories, but researchers found that subjects decreased their caloric intake by only a “small” 8 percent, and they did not find a strong association between this reduction and the measured improvements in health. Basically, the researchers established that intermittent fasting alone, without restricting food intake, showed positive health outcomes like lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and blood sugar.
Intermittent Fasting supports the removal of some of the complexity and difficulty of micromanaging calories, carbs, fat, or energy expended during exercise. For people with neither the time nor the inclination to track their food and activity, intermittent fasting may be a possible alternative that could deliver results without these obstacles.
Improving symptoms of chronic disease due to metabolic syndrome may have more to do with when people eat than what they eat (this could possibly be due to hormone fluctuations that occur naturally throughout the day).
Time-restricted eating and various forms of fasting appear to be promising for improving metabolic health even in the absence of weight loss. This is something to pay attention to because of the growing population of individuals with “normal weight obesity”—those who are not overweight yet are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, not to mention individuals with full-blown type 2 diabetes who are not overweight.
Intermittent Fasting (TRE) is something that should be navigated with a wellness expert, especially for those with current diagnoses of heart disease and type II diabetes.
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