Is there a best diet for everyone on the planet? No, there isn’t. Many factors influence what we put in our mouths, including our culture, customs, and available ingredients. If you’ll eat a lot of fish and plants; if you herd reindeer in Siberia, you’ll largely consume raw frozen fish and reindeer meat; and if you live in Lebanon, your lamb or poultry will be accompanied by yogurt, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas and lentils with flavors of lemon, mint, and garlic.
However, if you are overweight or obese, there may well be a universal method for getting to a healthier weight regardless of your nutritional combinations: intermittent fasting (IF).
In February 2020 we posted on the overall health benefits as well as possible anti-cancer properties of IF. We also updated our initial 2018 blog about IF to include more recent research regarding sexual and urinary health in addition to potential cancer control.
Now, the year 2021 wrapped up with a published review of 11 randomized, controlled IF studies [i] that gained media attention over its role in weight loss for adults. Interestingly, the international team of authors includes researchers from four U.S. academic centers including Harvard U. and the University of Chicago, as well as clinicians and scientists from Thailand, India, and Malaysia—what a variety of cuisines they represent!
While the quality of evidence in their review ranged from high to very low, the beneficial IF results for body mass index, weight, fat mass, healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin levels and blood pressure were found to be statistically significant in at least a quarter of the associations analyzed by the team. They found that alternate-day fasting for 1-2 months was particularly linked with “moderate reduction in body mass index in healthy adults and adults with overweight, obesity or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease compared with regular diet.”
Clearly, IF is one way to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. One of our earliest blog posts emphasizes that’s what good for the heart is also good for the prostate. Did you know that obesity carries a higher risk of aggressive and fatal prostate cancer? If you’re concerned about your weight— especially if you have at least one additional risk factor for prostate cancer–exploring intermittent fasting might well prove worth the time.
Losing weight can be a challenge, especially since food is tied up with emotion and meaning, and embracing vigorous aerobic exercise on a regular basis can be unappealing or even unfeasible. However, alternate-day fasting for up to 8 weeks can preserve the variety in one’s typical eating habits while pushing the body into a manageable, gradual metabolic change. We invite you to read the previous blogs we’ve linked to above, and to do your own investigation into the different methods of IF. Most importantly, consult with your own physician before making any changes in your current dietary and exercise patterns. This blog is offered solely to bring your attention to published research, and is NOT medical advice. The best guidance can be had in discussion with a medical provider who is familiar with you and your history. We send our best wishes for making informed, responsible choices to bring you long, healthy life.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Patikorn C, Roubal K, Veettil SK, Chandran V et al. Intermittent Fasting and Obesity-Related Health Outcomes: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses of Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Dec 1;4(12):e2139558.