Study finds that intermittent fasting leads to less severe COVID symptoms
Researchers from Intermountain Healthcare have found that people who regularly fast or practice intermittent fasting are less likely to experience severe complications from COVID-19.
Dr. Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Healthcare, said intermittent fasting already shows a surplus of health benefits including reducing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health. Now, it has shown to aid in battling COVID-19 infection.
“We started thinking and doing some in-depth research on what effect might fasting have on the mechanisms related to inflammation and other mechanisms that are active in controlling or reducing the severity of COVID-19,” Horne said.
The new study was published and released this week in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Researchers specifically found that COVID-19 patients who practiced regular water-only intermittent fasting had lower risk of hospitalization or dying due to the virus than patients who did not.
Dr. Horne said intermittent fasting does not prevent testing positive or contracting COVID-19, but is associated with lower severity of symptoms once the patient has tested positive for it.
“The biological mechanisms actually fit in very well with those findings," Horne said. "They speak well to the idea that the severity of COVID is reduced but not that you would be protected from getting COVID-19 in the first place.”
Dr. Horne says more research needs to be done in order to understand more about why intermittent fasting is associated with better COVID-19 outcomes, but he stressed that these results are found from patients who have practiced the diet after decades, not just in a short amount of time.