Can fasting reduce your chance of diabetes?

Can fasting reduce your chance of diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 86 million adults age 20 and older have prediabetes, the condition in which blood sugar, or glucose, levels are considered higher than normal, but aren’t yet high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.

And that’s up from an estimated 79 million adult Americans in just 2010, according to the statistics.

However, there’s new research that shows periodic, water-only fasting may be the answer to stopping and even reversing prediabetes. Researchers at Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, found that, after a 10 to 12-hour fast, the body’s self defenses are activated, causing a scavenging of energy resources that pulls LDL, or bad, cholesterol from the cells. The research is unclear on how the body uses the LDL, but it was found that, over multiple fastings, the total LDL is reduced in the body.

“Fasting has the potential to become an important health intervention,” said Dr. Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and lead researcher on the study. “Though we’ve studied fasting and its health benefits for years, we didn’t know why fasting could provide the health benefits we observed.”

This study builds upon prior research by the team, which looked at the effects of one-day fasting. This study looked at men and women between the ages of 30 and 69 with at least three metabolic risk factors, including:

  • A large waistline
  • A high triglyceride level
  • A low HDL, or good, cholesterol level
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood sugar

Participants were of different weights, some obese and some not, the researchers reported, where previous fasting research only examined obese participants and focused on weight loss due to fasting. Though weight loss did occur in the Intermountain Medical Center study, three pounds over six weeks, the main focus of the study was diabetes intervention, they say.

“When we studied the effects of fasting in apparently healthy people, cholesterol levels increased during the one-time 24-hour fast,” said Dr. Horne. “The changes that were most interesting or unexpected were all related to metabolic health and diabetes risk. Together with our prior studies that showed decades of routine fasting were associated with a lower risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, this led us to think that fasting is most impactful for reducing the risk of diabetes and related metabolic problems.”

According to Dr. Vinita Bhagia, endocrinologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, these new findings are preliminary, but exciting.

“This is not a big surprise, because it goes along with what we already know about weight loss and diabetes treatment,” she says. “The more weight a person has, the more resistant they will be to insulin and insulin resistance is the basic pathophysiology behind Type 2 diabetes.”

Though fasting is not yet a standard of care for patients who may be prediabetic, Dr. Bhagia says it is an area she will keep an interested eye on for her patients.

Related Posts



  1. There certainly needs to be morre research on this…how about Advocate doing a trial???

  2. How many times a week do you fast./? Once a week? Every other day?

  3. I had never fasted but about 2 years ago I tried several water only fasts lasting around 3 days each. I think I did 3 fasts in about 5 weeks. I felt fantastic and planned to continue. How quickly time flies because I have not tried a fast again. Guess no time like the present! (lifts glass of water to mouth)

  4. Ramdan Fasting July 2, 2014 at 4:40 am · Reply

    Many people observe fasting as a religious obligation but only few know the health benefits it has. Fasting is a good practice, if properly implemented. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, reduces blood sugar ans fat stores. It promote healthy eating habits and boost immunity. Here are top 10 health benefits you ca derive from fasting.
    1. Fasting Promotes detoxification

    Processed foods contain lots of additives. These additives may become toxins in the body. Some of them promote production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Most of these toxins are stored in fats. Fat is burnt during fasting, especially when it is prolonged. And the toxins are released. The liver, kidneys and other organs in the body are involved in detoxification.

    2. Fasting Rests Digestive System

    During fasting, the digestive organs rest. The normal physiologic functions continue especially production of digestive secretions, but at reduced rates. This exercise helps to maintain balance of fluids in the body. Breakdown of food takes place at steady rates. Release of energy also follows a gradual pattern. Fasting however does not stop production of acids in the stomach. This is reason patients with peptic ulcer are advised to approach fasting with caution. Some experts believe they should not fast.

    3. Fasting Resolves Inflammatory Response

    Some studies show that fasting promotes resolution of inflammatory diseases and allergies. Examples of such inflammatory diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis and skin diseases such as psoriasis. Some experts assert that fasting may promote healing of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.

    4. Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar

    Fasting increases breakdown of glucose so that the body can get energy. It reduces production of insulin. This rests the pancreas. Glucagon is produced to facilitate the breakdown of glucose. The outcome of fasting is a reduction in blood sugar.

    5. Fasting Increases Fat breakdown

    The first response of the body to fasting is break down of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is break down of fats to release energy. The fats stored in kidney and muscles are broken down to release energy.

    6. Fasting Corrects high blood Pressure

    Fasting is one of the non-drug methods of reducing blood pressure. It helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is clogging of arteries by fat particles. During fasting glucose and later, fat stores are used to produce energy. Metabolic rate is reduced during fasting. The fear-flight hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline are also reduced. This keeps the metabolic steady and within limits. The benefit is a reduction in blood pressure.

    7. Fasting Promotes Weight loss

    Fasting promotes rapid weight loss. It reduces the store of fats in the body. However fasting is not a good weight loss strategy. Reducing fat and sugar intake, and increasing fruits and rest are better measures to achieve weight reduction.

    8. Fasting Promotes Healthy diet

    It has been observed that fasting reduces craving for processed foods. It promotes desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. This is one way fasting promote healthy lifestyle.

    9. Fasting Boosts Immunity

    When an individual is on balanced diet in between fasts, this can boost immunity. Elimination of toxins and reduction in fat store also helps the body. When individuals take fruits to break a fast, they increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants readily available in fruits. They help to boost immunity.

    10. Fasting May Help to Overcome Addictions

    Some authors show that fasting can help addicts reduce their cravings, for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other substance abuse. Although there are other regimens required to resolve addictions, fasting can play a role.

    Despite these benefits, fasting has some demerits. It may cause reduction in body water called dehydration. This leads may lead to headaches and even trigger migraines in predisposed persons. It may worsen heartburn and peptic ulcer. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, malnourished people, and individuals with cardiac arrhythmias, renal or liver problems are advised not to fast.


    Seliger, S. & Haines, C.D. (2012) ‘Is Fasting Healthy?’ Accessed from (link)

    Panjwani, M. (2009) ’11 Health Benefits of Fasting’, Accessed from

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.