Studies show that Intermittent fasting has many health benefits including helping lose weight, reducing inflammation, and improving conditions associated with inflammation 1, 2, 3. But can it help lower blood pressure?
Intermittent fasting can be defined as a type of eating plan that involves switching between eating and fasting on a regular basis 4. Most of the diets we have today concentrate on what to eat, however, intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat.
With this kind of eating plan, you only eat during a particular time. Eating a single meal a few days a week or fasting for a specific hour a day may help you shed some fat 5.
Effects of intermittent fasting on blood pressure
Blood pressure is simply the force of blood that flows through the arteries. It is also called hypertension, but when the force of blood flowing through the arteries is high, it causes the heart to work extra hard to pump blood 6.
According to the Cleveland Clinic 7, fasting can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce weight, and control diabetes.
Moreover, a study where people fasted for four to 21 days found that blood pressure levels were lowered because fasting is believed to increase parasympathetic activity or the rest and digest state 8.
Causes of hypertension
Hypertension is associated with obesity and overweight, therefore, losing weight is one of the most common ways to reduce blood pressure 9. But hypertension has different causes that are not yet understood.
However, insulin resistance appears to be a critical factor, and the manner in which it impacts blood pressure is well-documented. Insulin resistance refers to when cells in the muscles, liver, and fat fail to respond properly to insulin and cannot remove glucose from the blood 10.
Intermittent fasting is known for being effective in enhancing insulin resistance in a very short time 11.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting for the cardiovascular system
Early results of studies about intermittent fasting are positive. Regardless of its direct link to hypertension, fasting can be a great tool to enhance your overall health. An evaluation of 13 studies discovered that intermittent fasting is constructive for weight loss in a healthy person, with negligible mood impact 12.
Moreover, fasting can also play an important role in decreasing LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, which normally increases the risk for atherosclerosis as well as heart issues 13. Finally, intermittent fasting can also help increase insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, thus lowering the risk for cardiovascular issues 14, 15.
Should you try intermittent fasting?
Fasting is not appropriate for everyone, so before embarking on any fasting protocol be sure to check with your doctor, especially if you:
· Are above 65 years old
· Are under age – 18 years old
· Are breastfeeding or pregnant
· Take medications
· Have a low blood pressure history.
A final word
Should you incorporate intermittent fasting to reduce blood pressure? Early results are promising. However, it is important to keep in mind that the researches done so far are conducted with a small sample size. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to use fasting as a way to reduce high cholesterol.
Intermittent fasting can be defined as a type of eating plan that involves switching between eating and fasting on a regular basis. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce weight, and control diabetes. Moreover, it can also play an important role in decreasing LDL cholesterol and increasing insulin sensitivity. It is important to consult with a doctor before embarking on any fasting protocol, especially if the person is above 65 years old, under 18 years old, breastfeeding or pregnant, taking medications, or has a low blood pressure history. Early results of studies about intermittent fasting are promising and there is enough evidence to use fasting as a way to reduce high cholesterol.