What does fasting do for your health?

Thanks for reading my blog. This November, I’m starting with an article from a recent edition of the New Scientist (NS), concerning the benefits of fasting.

This “old chestnut” has been around for a while, but is there any basis for the idea that intermittent starvation is good for us?

The latest piece of evidence comes from a study undertaken on Californian firefighters by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. We know that shift work is notoriously bad for our health. The disruption it causes to the body’s normal rhythms leads to a small but significant increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The research team recruited around 150 firefighters and asked them to spend 12 weeks following a typical Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, grains, fruits, and olive oil and low in sugar and meat.

They then asked 70 participants to consume all their daily food within the same ten hours, so in effect, they were fasting for fourteen hours of the day. The remaining group could eat whenever they liked. Before the study, there were no significant differences between the health of each group.

The firefighters recorded what they ate and completed surveys on their well-being. The researchers also undertook regular blood tests.

The results showed that the 14-hour fasting group improved in many aspects of their health.

The most significant was the reduction of the size of harmful cholesterol molecules, known as very low-density lipoproteins. The size of these particles collates strongly with heart disease, so smaller particles lower the risks. This group of firefighters also had slightly greater weight loss, lower blood pressure and less sleep disturbance.

The study showed improvement in both groups, presumably due to the Mediterranean diet, but the improvement was more significant in the time-restricted eating group.

This study reinforces the benefits of the Mediterranean diet but also shows that limiting eating to just ten hours in the day improves many aspects of health, from sleep to blood pressure to heart disease.

Small change but large impact.

Paul Zollinger-Read CBE

Group Medical Director 

The views expressed in the blog are my own personal views and are not intended as medical advice.

    General Enquiry and Appointment Form

    Whether you have a general enquiry or are enquiring about making an appointment, we'd love to hear from you. Please complete the form below, or you can call us on

    01293 534 043

    Tel: 01293 534 043
    Email: enquiries@medicalimaging.org.uk

    Medical Imaging Partnership Ltd.
    Unit 7, The Pavilions, Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, Crawley,
    West Sussex RH11 9BJ