" "These new findings demonstrate that our original discovery was not a chance event," says Dr. Benjamin D. Horne, PhD, MPH, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, and the study's principal investigator. "The confirmation among a new set of patients that fasting is associated with lower risk of these common diseases raises new questions about how fasting itself reduces risk or if it simply indicates a healthy lifestyle."
Unlike the earlier research by the team, this new research recorded reactions in the body's biological mechanisms during the fasting period.
The participants' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the "bad" cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, the "good" cholesterol) both increased (by 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively) raising their total cholesterol -- and catching the researchers by surprise.
"Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body," says Dr. Horne. "This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes."
This recent study also confirmed earlier findings about the effects of fasting on human growth hormone (HGH), a metabolic protein. HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.
In this most recent trial, researchers conducted two fasting studies of over 200 individuals -- both patients and healthy volunteers -- who were recruited at Intermountain Medical Center. A second 2011 clinical trial followed another 30 patients who drank only water and ate nothing else for 24 hours. They were also monitored while eating a normal diet during an additional 24-hour period. Blood tests and physical measurements were taken from all to evaluate cardiac risk factors, markers of metabolic risk, and other general health parameters."
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