Is routine fasting good for your heart? It might be. A recent study found that people who regularly fasted had a 58 percent lower risk for heart disease than those who didn’t refrain from eating for a period of time.
However, researchers say more study is needed before physicians should start advising patients to take up the practice, especially since study participants were devout Mormons, who, in addition to fasting for a 24-hour period each month, don’t drink alcohol, smoke, or use caffeine – good-for-you practices that affect cardiovascular health.
If you’re thinking about trying a fast, consider what some experts are saying and be sure to discuss the idea with your doctor.
In general, fasting for one or two days is not harmful for people who are healthy as long as they continue drinking fluids, WebMD.com says. But fasting for long periods of time deprives the body of essential nutrients, which can lead to dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, and even death if you fast for too long.
Dr. Benjamin D. Horne of Intermountain Healthcare, who led the fasting study which was presented this week at the American College of Cardiology conference, says people should not consider the practice as a fast way to drop pounds.
“Fasting is not a quick fix; it’s a long-term lifestyle that you integrate into your normal life and do it for the duration,” Horne, who says he fasts once a month, tells WebMD.com.