Researchers examine benefits of regular fasting

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SALT LAKE CITY – Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have been looking at fasting in relation to chronic conditions like coronary diseases and diabetes, and they say fasting routinely can be beneficial.

Benjamin Horne is a genetic epidemiologist, and he spoke about the study.

"In this study we had people fasting once a week for 24 hours, drinking water only,” he said.

The study followed 12 pre-diabetic men and women between the ages of 30 and 69 for six weeks.

"They did very well,” Horne said of the participants. “There were no fainting episodes or periods of weakness or anything like that that were reported."

Researchers said participants’ cholesterol went up during periods of fasting, and Horne said that may sound bad but said the patients were actually purging cholesterol while fasting.

"What’s happening is the body is using cholesterol and other fats that are stored inside the body as a source of energy,” he said.

Horne said diet and exercise are the keys to longevity, but he said it’s likely that fasting regularly can provide long-term results.

"About once a month fasting is sufficient,” Horne said. "People who fast routinely for a period of decades potentially can realize a small amount of benefit every time they fast that adds up and protects them from developing these chronic diseases."

Researchers said more work will need to be done in order to better understand the relation between fasting and the human body. Horne said fasting isn’t for everyone, particularly those with serious chronic conditions or immune disorders.