A group of scientists from Sao Paulo in Brazil concludes that intermittent fasting diet fads could make people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting diets have recently been gaining popularity among people who wanted to lose weight. The recent finding, however, suggested that the diet fad could bring more harm than good, particularly to those whose bodies might already be resistant to insulin.
Specifically, intermittent fasting diet that involved skipping meals every other day could damage the pancreas's production of insulin, thereby leading to diabetes and other serious health risks.
The researchers, therefore, warned against jumping into the diet program without careful considerations.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Could Generate Damaging Free Radicals
The team of researchers, led by Ana Bonassa from the University of Sao Paulo, noted that previous studies had already found short-term fasting produces highly reactive chemicals or free radicals in the body. These chemicals are linked to impaired organ function, cancer risk, and accelerated aging.
Bonassa and her team were curious whether intermittent fasting could also produce similar free radicals. To investigate, they examined the effects of fasting every other day in adult rats. Specifically, they observed the rats' body weight, free radical levels, and insulin function over the duration of three months.
The rats' body weight and food intake decreased within the period of the study. However, the amount of fat tissue in their abdomen increased simultaneously.
Most importantly, the experiment revealed that the cells of the rats' pancreas were damaged. The pancreas is the organ that releases insulin in the body.
Furthermore, the rats' body showed increased levels of free radicals and markers of insulin resistance.
"We should consider that overweight or obese people who opt for intermittent fasting diets may already have insulin resistance, so although this diet may lead to early, rapid weight loss, in the long-term there could be potentially serious damaging effects to their health, such as the development of type-2 diabetes," Bonassa said.
The team presented its finding during an annual meeting that is being held by the European Society of Endocrinology from May 19 to May 22.
Intermittent Fasting Diets
In their presentation, the team highlighted that the health benefits of intermittent fasting diets remained to be proven in spite of the program's popularity. The team said that with the many different types of intermittent fasting diets also come varied and conflicting reports proving its advantages.
The team asserted that their data may have been obtained in normal weight rats. The results, however, implied that investigation is needed to assess how people could be impacted by the diet fad.
The team's next step is to identify precisely how the diet impairs pancreas and insulin function.
Diabetes In The United States
Prediabetes is a condition that often leads to type 2 diabetes if left untreated. Only 11.6 percent of American adults are aware that they have prediabetes.