Intermittent Fasting May Help to Reduce Risk of Severe COVID-19 Disease

Previous research has found intermittent fasting to have various health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers have now discovered that individuals who practice regular fasting have less risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 complications.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1136/bmjnph-2022-000462

The researchers discovered that patients with COVID-19 who practiced intermittent fasting regularly had a reduced risk of death or hospitalization as a result of the virus compared to individuals who didn’t practice intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting has already been found to help with reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health. The results of this study show additional benefits with regard to fighting COVID-19 infection in individuals who’ve been fasting for many years.

For the study, 205 COVID-19 positive patients were identified. Of those, 73 reported regularly fasting a minimum of once a month. Individuals who practiced regular fasting were found to have a reduced rate of death or hospitalization as a result of coronavirus.

Intermittent fasting wasn’t linked to whether or not an individual tested COVID-19 positive, but it was linked to lower severity once the individuals had tested positive for it.

The study participants reported regularly fasting for over 40 years on average. The researchers had the chance to study these long-term intermittent fasters closely due to the fact a large percentage of their patients are regularly fasting for religious purposes.

Although more research is required to determine why intermittent fasting is linked to improved COVID-19 outcomes, the researchers speculate it’s probably because of the various ways fasting affects the body.

For instance, inflammation is reduced when fasting, and hyperinflammation is linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes. Also, after fasting for 12 to 14 hours, the body changes over from making use of glucose to making use of ketones, which include linoleic acid.

Linoleic acid fits into a pocket on the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ surface that can make the virus less capable of attaching to other cells.

Intermittent fasting also promotes autophagy, which is the recycling system of the body that helps in destroying and recycling infected and damaged cells.

The researchers point out that these results are from individuals who have for many years been practicing intermittent fasting, and that any individual considering the practice should first consult their physician, particularly if they are pregnant, elderly, or have conditions such as diabetes, kidney, or heart disease.

Intermittent Fasting Infographic

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