Intermittent fasting has health benefits, but it's not for everyone, researchers say
Who should--and shouldn't--try intermittent fasting? Researchers explain.
By Allen Laiche | Feb 11, 2020 | Print-friendly

Weight loss, less stress, and lower cholesterola type of diet called intermittent fasting could yield all of these benefits and more, a new study concludes. But other researchers chimed in with some notes of caution: This diet is difficult and requires patience, and it may not be a good idea for people with certain health conditions.

Intermittent fasting consists of alternating between periods of eating and not eating, according to co-author Mark Mattson, a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist. He said that this diet comes in two varieties: one that requires the person to consume food only within a set six- or eight-hour period of the day; and one that limits the person to eat normally five days a week and eat only one moderate-sized meal on each of the other two.

Either way, the alternating between eating and fasting can improve blood-sugar regulation and increase resistance to stress, while also lowering blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and heart rates, Matson wrote. He said that he would encourage more health professionals to tell their patients about it.

"We are at a transition point where we could soon consider adding information about intermittent fasting to medical school curricula alongside standard advice about healthy diets and exercise," Mattson said in a release statement.

But Guy Mintz, director of cardiovascular health and lipidology at Sandra Bass Hear Hospital in New York, noted that the fasting regimen can be difficult. He did not participate in the study.

Mintz also said that patients who are diabetic, older, or not overweight should avoid intermittent fasting. The diet can cause swift fluctuations in blood sugar, which can be harmful for any of these patient groups, he said.