Fasting to lose weight may have some serious side effects. This has been found by a group of scientists addressing the annual meeting of the European Society of Endocrinology  . Their findings warn that fasting-based diets can impair the function of sugar-regulating hormone insulin and increase the risk of diabetes.
Intermittent fasting diets have become more popular these days. Participants fast for two days in a week, or on alternate days. But, evidence of their success has been found contradictory and there is confusion among doctors whether fasting leads to harmful long-term effects.
Intermittent Fasting May Affect Insulin Production
Ana Bonassa of the University of São Paulo in Brazil conducted the study. This is the first study to find that, though intermittent fasting causes weight loss, it may damage the pancreas and affect the function of insulin in healthy individuals, which could cause diabetes and serious health problems.
Previous research has found that short-term fasting can produce free radicals that can cause damage to the cells in the body and which can be associated with impaired organ function, accelerated aging and cancer risk.
The researchers studied the effects of fasting every other day on weight loss, insulin function and free radical levels in normal rats for three months. Although the bodyweight of rats and intake of food slowly decreased as expected, the amount of fat tissue in the abdomen increased. Also, cells of the pancreas that produce insulin showed damage, while the presence of increased levels of free radicals and markers of insulin resistance were also detected.
The findings also suggested that in the long-term, damage may be caused and that more research is needed to find how people might be affected, particularly those having metabolic issues.
Researchers consider that obese or overweight people who choose intermittent fasting diets might already have insulin resistance, so although this diet can lead to rapid weight loss, in the long-term, there can be serious damaging effects to their health, such as the development of type 2 diabetes.