Is Fasting Good For A Diabetic’s Heart?

A recent study suggests that people who fast once a month are less likely to suffer from heart disease. Even diabetics might benefit from this lifestyle.

The study, conducted at Intermountain Medical Center and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, surveyed 515 people, averaging age 64. Of those who practiced monthly fasting, 59 percent were diagnosed with heart disease, compared to 67 percent of those who did not practice periodic fasting.

A particularly unexpected and interesting result was that even diabetics, who are normally encouraged to stick to a regular eating schedule, had a lower rate of heart disease when fasting monthly. This study alone is not enough to recommend to diabetics that they deviate from their normal eating schedules, but it does present some very interesting possibilities.

Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Benjamin D. Horne, who presented the findings of the study at an American Heart Association conference in November, offers this explanation:

“One of the major problems in the development of the metabolic syndrome and the pathway to diabetes is that the insulin-producing beta cells become desensitized. Routine fasting may allow them to resensitize — to reset to a baseline level so they work better.”

In other words, because fasting eliminates glucose intake for an extended period of time, insulin-producing cells may have to opportunity to recharge and become more effective.

The study showed that diabetics, and non-diabetics, practicing fasting, had healthier arteries, and a subsequent decreased risk of heart disease. While this is not a definitive study, further follow-up research may prove that diabetics should give their insulin producing cells a chance to recharge by fasting.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Horne, Benjamin. American Heart Association. 2007.

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