Inflammation is the key to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis—but it can be countered by going on a fast.
Fasting reduces inflammation levels in the body, and researchers at the University of Cambridge have studied its effects and come to an understanding of the biological mechanisms that happen when we eat less.
They took blood samples from 21 participants, who ate a 500-calorie meal before fasting for 24 hours which was ended with a second meal.
Fasting increased levels of a lipid in the blood known as arachidonic acid, which turns down our inflammatory responses, and especially NLRP3 inflammasome. Inflammasome is seen as an alarm call in our cells that triggers inflammation to help protect our body. But it can all start going wrong when inflammasome destroys cells that, in turn, start the inflammatory response, thus creating a vicious cycle.
It had been thought that arachidonic acid increased levels of inflammation, and not turned it down, as the Cambridge researchers have discovered.
The NLRP3 inflammasome has been linked to obesity, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“Regular fasting over a long period could help reduce the chronic inflammation we associate with these conditions,” said Clare Bryant, one of the researchers.