Researchers show that intermittent fasting diets help lower cholesterol which could reduce insulin resistance and help prevent type 2 diabetes developing.
The study was carried out by Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. Participants were aged between 30 and 69 and had at least 3 of the following 5 diabetes risk factors:
High fasting blood glucose levels
High triglyceride levels
Low levels of HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol)
High blood pressure
A large waist measurement
The participants took part in a diet which involved included single days for which only water was the only food or drink to be consumed. The researchers observed effect on cholesterol through the 6 week study.
The research team found that whilst cholesterol went up on fasting days, by the end of the study, cholesterol levels of the participants dropped by 12%. The researchers believe that the higher cholesterol on fasting days is from the body releasing extra cholesterol from fat cells to be used up for energy by other cells of the body.
Excess storage of fat is a known contributor to insulin resistance and therefore a mechanism, such as fasting, which promotes loss of excess fat and lowering cholesterol plays a part in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers note that further research studies, such as over a longer period of time than six weeks, will be needed to confirm the benefits found in this study.