People who practice intermittent fasting experience less severe complications from COVID-19, study finds

People who practice intermittent fasting experience less severe complications from COVID-19, study finds

Intermittent fasting has previously shown to have a host of health benefits, including lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Now, researchers from Intermountain Healthcare have found that people who regularly fast are less like to experience severe complications from COVID-19.

In a new study published this week in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, Intermountain researchers 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.

“Intermittent fasting has already shown to lower inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. In this study, we’re finding additional benefits when it comes to battling an infection of COVID-19 in patients who have been fasting for decades,” said Benjamin Horne, PhD, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Healthcare.

In the Intermountain study, researchers identified patients enrolled in the INSPIRE registry, a voluntary health registry at Intermountain Healthcare, who had also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between March 2020 and February 2021 — before vaccines were widely available.

They identified 205 patients who had tested positive for the virus. Of those, 73 said they regularly fasted at least once a month. Researchers found that those who practiced regular fasting had a lower rate of hospitalization or death due to coronavirus.

“Intermittent fasting was not associated with whether or not someone tested positive COVID-19, but it was associated with lower severity once patients had tested positive for it,” Dr. Horne said.

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