Fasting Can Decrease Fat In This Very Unexpected Place
Intermittent fasting is all the rage in the wellness world, and for good reason! So far, fasting has been connected to any number of healthy benefits, including helping with weight loss, decreasing inflammation, and even restoring healthy blood sugar levels.
Now, a new study published in the journal Metabolism, showed that mice put on a fasting regime displayed significantly lower pancreatic fat.
But wait...pancreatic fat? If you didn't even know your pancreas had fat, you're not alone. Even medical experts know surprisingly little about the fat that can accumulate in pancreatic cells. In fact, as one of the lead researchers on the study, Professor Annette Schürmann, put it, "Fat accumulations outside the fat tissue, e.g., in the liver, muscles, or even bones, have a negative effect on these organs and the entire body. What impact fat cells have within the pancreas has not been clear until now."
So what did the research show, exactly? The study, which was conducted at the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE), showed that overweight mice prone to diabetes tend to have increased accumulation of fat cells in the pancreas, while overweight mice not prone to diabetes have hardly any fat in their pancreas at all. So, we now know that excess pancreatic fat contributes to the development of insulin resistance and unhealthy blood sugar levels. And even more exciting, they found that fasting can help prevent pancreatic fat development in the first place.
If you're wondering how they figured that out, the study went like this: Researchers divided the mice into two groups. Mice in group one were allowed to eat without abandon, with no restrictions placed on when or how much they ate. Mice in group two were allowed to eat as much as they wanted every other day, but on the days in between, they were not fed at all (a type of fasting called alternate-day fasting, which has also been tested in humans). This went on for five weeks, and the results showed that the mice in group two had hardly developed any fat in the pancreas.
So will alternate-day fasting become standard diabetes prevention? According to the researchers, it's possible considering the direct connection this study establishes. "Under certain genetic conditions, the accumulation of fat in the pancreas may play a decisive role in the development of type 2 diabetes." Not to mention, as a tool for better health, fasting is convenient, free, and has virtually no side effects.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.