Intermittent Fasting Decreases Heart Disease Risk

Intermittent fasting — the practice of going without food for any period of time longer than about 12 hours, including sleep time — has many benefits. Among them are fat loss, better insulin sensitivity, and a profound anti-aging effect — and intermittent fasting decreases heart disease risk, dramatically.

Mormons have less heart disease

A study done among Mormons also found that fasting has a huge effect on heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S.. Those Mormons who fast lowered their risk by nearly 50%.(1)

The study looked at people in Utah who presented at an angiography clinic. Data was collected and analyzed.

Mormons commend fasting at least once a month.

Among the Mormons who practiced fasting, the odds ratio of heart disease was 0.55, when compared to other Mormons who did not fast.

Interestingly, among adherents of other religions, fasting reduced the risk of heart disease even more, by 77%.

The authors of the study offer several possible explanations for their findings.

How intermittent fasting prevents heart disease

1. Fasting is associated with other beneficial behaviors, all linked by self-control. Most people won’t fast at all and believe it too difficult — even though it isn’t. But those who do fast probably do have more self-discipline, and this carries over into other behaviors, such as eating less overall.

2. Metabolic factors — the authors believe this is the best explanation. Fasting results in better insulin sensitivity, and insulin resistance is strongly associated with heart disease.

3. Hormesis. Fasting activates cellular stress-defense mechanisms, which in animals results in longer life.

4. Fasting is a surrogate marker for other behaviors. But the fact that fasting was strongly associated with less heart disease among other religions, “suggests that the observed benefit arises from fasting and not from a cluster of religion-associated behaviors.”

5. Another possibility, not mentioned in the study, is that intermittent fasting increases autophagy in arteries. Older people have impaired autophagy, the cellular self-cleansing process that rids cells of junk and keeps them in a youthful state.  Age is the most significant risk factor for heart disease. It’s been shown that impaired autophagy causes reduced endothelial function — meaning that arteries become old and not as useful.(2) People who have had a heart attack show lower levels of autophagy.

Therefore, if you boost your cellular self-cleansing through intermittent fasting, you end up with cleaner, younger, elastic, and unplugged arteries.

Years ago, I read the book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman on fasting (I no longer have it so I can’t quote it). Dr. Fuhrman claimed that fasting could cure coronary artery disease, and claimed some actual cures. The idea is that fasting almost literally melts away lipid deposits in arteries.

No doubt it’s a bit more complicated than that, but it leaves open the idea that fasting could not only prevent, but cure, heart disease. I know that if I had heart disease, I’d be fasting like a yogi on a mountain top.

Doctors won’t tell you to fast

Of course, if you do have heart disease, or just want to prevent it, don’t think your doctor will suggest intermittent fasting. It’s just not on the medical radar. You’ll be offered drugs instead — statins, probably.

There’s no money whatsoever in promoting intermittent fasting, either for a doctor or for drug companies. (Which is one reason they won’t tell you about the dangers of iron.)

Intermittent fasting isn’t on the radar of almost anyone either, doctor or not. Most people seem to believe that if you miss a meal, you’re “starving”. We’re conditioned to eat every few hours, whether we’re hungry or not.

So, if you want to prevent the number one cause of death and disability, try intermittent fasting. A 16/8 schedule is easy to implement, can be done daily or however often you want, and will do the job.

PS: More on how intermittent fasting reduces disease and stops aging is in my book, Stop the Clock: The Optimal Anti-Aging Strategy.

PS: Check out my Supplements Buying Guide for Men.


Leave a Comment:

Ole says July 1, 2016

pheew, glad I did 22 hours IF yesterday. Of course doctors don’t know about IF. No-one taught them in medical school. Besides, a patient cured, is a customer lost….

    Uncle Maffoo says July 1, 2016

    I saw my doctor a couple months ago. He had not heard of IF either, though I explained how it and my weight training routine enabled me to lose 60 lbs and eliminate the need for blood pressure meds. At no point during my treatment for hypertension did the doc offer a diet plan or even order me to lose weight (yes, I should have known myself, but whatever). When I did ask about a medically supervised weight loss plan, he just wrote a script for Qsymia, a dangerous, possibly psychoactive drug that my insurance didn’t cover and was too expensive to purchase out of pocket.

Johnny says July 1, 2016

Thanks for the article PD. Re fasting and autophagy, 2 interesting studies I read:
1) Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy

2) Fasting activates macroautophagy in neurons of Alzheimer’s disease mouse model but is insufficient to degrade amyloid-beta
The latter is particularly interesting, but they only fasted mice for 48 hrs – not enough imo – and they used a very strong Alzherimers virus. Even so, extracellular amyloid-beta accumulation was decreased in visual cortex (arrows) after 48hr fast

Johnny says July 2, 2016

Also, don’t know if you follow Peter Attia (M.D.), but he is quite well known in the low-carb community and recently posted an elaborate post on heart disease. He is one of the few others I follow regarding health and nutrition

Joseph Moroco says July 2, 2016

For quite some time I have been doing around 21 hours most days. I am wondering if that is too much? Most people don’t do it every day.

    P. D. Mangan says July 2, 2016

    Joseph, what your doing is similar to the “Warrior Diet” I believe, basically eating only once a day. I don’t see a problem with doing that as often as you want. As Dr. Jason Fung notes, if you feel ill at any time during a fast, you should stop.

Ole says July 3, 2016

I also see no problem in “once a day meal”. The only problem is that I tend to cramp too much food into a very small window of eg. 2-3 hours. Once I get started eating, it’s non-stop for 2-3 hours…

Ole says July 4, 2016

Btw., at a certian point in time, when enough macrophages have been borken down and recycled, mTor is re-activated. I’m not sure though, at which point in time this occurs, but it does occur.

Ted says September 11, 2016

PD I’ve looked into EDTA and its chelating properties and use in the new toothpaste (livionex) where EDTA chelates calcium (IIRC) and thus removes plaque.
I am fairly sure the same concept could be applied in atherosclerosis, given that calcium is involved in artery plaques.
There is evidence that EDTA chelation IV therapy reduces plaques in atherosclerosis

    P. D. Mangan says September 11, 2016

    Hi Ted, I believe that’s absolutely correct. Even oral EDTA seems to work for atherosclerosis, although it’s much slower acting. One of the ways it seems to work is by chelating heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, which appear to be highly involved in atherosclerosis. Heavy Metals, Cardiovascular Disease, and the Unexpected Benefits of Chelation Therapy. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      ted says September 11, 2016

      Also ties in with Ivor Cummins’ speech on calcification of arteries and its relation to heart disease

Nobel Prize in Medicine for Autophagy Research - Rogue Health and Fitness says October 3, 2016

[…] way or another, and even some non-chronic diseases, like infection. It’s important in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and […]

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