Fasting before starting a diet 'can significantly improve long-term health'

·1-min read

Fasting for at least five days before starting a new diet can significantly improve health in the long term, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association in Germany found that if a diet is preceded by fasting, it can help to improve gut health, which in turn will lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

The team analysed 71 participants, who suffered from metabolic syndrome and raised blood pressure, and divided them into two groups.

Both groups followed the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet for three months, which includes fruit, vegetables, wholemeal grains, nuts and pulses, fish and lean white meat.

One of the groups did not consume any solid food for five days before starting the DASH diet, and the researchers found that the gut microbiome multiplied during fasting, and lasted for more than three months after starting a new diet, leading to other positive health changes.

"Body mass index, blood pressure and the need for anti-hypertensive medication remained lower in the long term among volunteers who started the healthy diet with a five-day fast," study leader Professor Dominik N. Müller explained, noting that blood pressure normally increases when medication isn't taken.

Dr Sofia Forslund, who was also involved in the study, said that health "clearly improves" after fasting, and this could motivate patients to stick to a healthy lifestyle in the long term.