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Can fasting help control inflammation?

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Chronic inflammation – as found in rheumatoid arthritis and other medical conditions – is often a result of lifestyle factors. Poor dietary decisions (too much sugar and processed food), gut health issues, food intolerance, stress, exhaustion and not enough exercise all play a role in promoting inflammation.

While eating better and getting more exercise are the best lifestyle modifications that one can make to keep inflammation at bay, intermittent fasting – as observed during Ramadhan – has also been found to be beneficial. Some of the popular methods of intermittent fasting are 16 hour fasts (skipping breakfast) or 24 hour fasts (skipping breakfast and lunch) one or two times a week.

Studies on Intermittent Fasting

Numerous studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to help reduce inflammation. The earliest was the Haugen study published in the Lancet in 1991. Results of the Haugen study were crucial as it showed decreased joints pain and stiffness in 2/3rd of the patients with RA and ankylosing spondylitis. The mechanisms of improvement were also complex and it involved diminished activation of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and decreased generation of leukotriens and of serum complement factors, as well as other pro-inflammatory systems.

In June 2003, the Bahrain Medical Bulletin also reported a study on Ramadan Fasting and Rheumatoid Arthritis, where 31 patients were divided into a fasting and non-fasting group and were assessed clinically for disease activity (morning stiffness, number of painful and swollen joints and grip strength), laboratory variables (Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, hemoglobin and leukocytes count) and patients global assessment, initially and at the end of Ramadan. There was significant improvement both in clinical and in global patient assessment in the fasting group at the end of Ramadan.

Two other studies in recent times have also made the benefits of intermittent fasting for reducing inflammation abundantly clear. A study in 2012 and another in 2007 done on people partaking in a month of Ramadan fasting both came to the same conclusions. Researchers compared the subjects taking part in the fasting to a control group eating 3 meals a day and found that the individuals that were fasting had significant reductions in inflammation markers interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and homocysteine. In simpler terms, by partaking in fasting, they reduced inflammation in their body. The other important thing to note is that during the studies there was no difference in caloric intake between the individuals fasting and the control group. When the fasting group was free to eat, they consumed as many calories during the day as the group eating three meals a day. This is important to note, as it wasn’t calorie restriction reducing inflammation – but it was the periods of fasting.

On a cautionary note, if you’re pregnant or diabetic, fasting in most instances is not right for you. Those under medication should consult their doctor before fasting. But if you’re otherwise healthy, Intermittent Fasting can actually help you get rid of the inflammation.

#IntermittentFasting #Ramadan #RheumatoidArthritis #Inflammation #PainRelief #Fasting #Arthritis

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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