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How Can Fasting Help With Inflammation? All You Need To Know

Inflammation is a normal response to damage and an essential part of our bodies’ healing processes. However, it can become a problem when it persists for long periods, leading even to the development of chronic diseases.

As long-term inflammation becomes more common, it is no surprise that people are looking for ways to fight it and mitigate its symptoms.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a health trend being praised for bringing several health benefits, including reducing inflammation. What does science have to say about these claims? Can it truly help with chronic inflammation? Let’s find out.

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What Is Inflammation, and What Are its Effects on the Body?

Simply put, inflammation is our immune system’s response to infection and injury. It’s part of our natural healing process, and it should naturally disappear once we’ve healed.

There are two types of inflammation—acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.

Acute inflammation occurs when your body is physically damaged, maybe with a cut to the finger, a pulled muscle, a broken foot, or in case of flu. These incidents trigger an inflammatory response in which your body sends white blood cells to the affected area to initiate the healing.

The most common symptoms of acute inflammation are:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Difficulty moving and loss of function

These symptoms may appear anywhere on the affected body area, and disappear after the injury or infection has healed.

Chronic inflammation is the same inflammatory process, but in this case, the response lasts for months or even years—this process can have multiple causes. The problem with long-term inflammation is that it can become a health issue on its own.

In most cases, chronic inflammation is harder to detect than acute inflammation. Some of the most common symptoms of persisting inflammatory processes include:

  • Joint or muscle pains
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Sleep disorders
  • Mood disorders

If you believe you suffer from chronic inflammation, make sure to consult with your doctor, who will run the necessary tests to find its cause and help you treat it.

Let’s now learn about how persisting inflammatory processes affect your health and the effects they can cause.

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Can cause high blood pressure

Numerous studies have shown that chronic inflammation  can lead to oxidative stress, which plays a part in the development of hypertension (high blood pressure).

Blood pressure is defined as the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. When you have high blood pressure, the force used to move the blood is too strong, generating extra pressure against your blood vessels and causing damage to your arteries.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can severely impact your overall health: it increases the risk of heart disease and may even be the cause of a heart attack or a stroke.

Can cause shortness of breath

Inflammation can cause dyspnea (shortness of breath) when it affects your lungs or heart. Shortness of breath feels like an intense tightening in the chest, which can even lead to difficulties when trying to breathe normally.

Strenuous exercise, high temperatures, obesity, anxiety, or altitude usually trigger this condition. But when dyspnea shows up outside of these circumstances, it may be caused by an underlying inflammatory condition.

If your shortness of breath has no apparent cause and appears suddenly, it may be due to an inflammatory condition. In this case, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

Can cause joint pain

As discussed previously, chronic inflammatory processes can affect any part of your body—and the joints are no exception.

Inflammation in the articulations falls under the umbrella term of inflammatory arthritis—an inflammatory joint disease where your immune system attacks your joints. Its most common symptoms include pain, tenderness, and joint stiffness, particularly in the mornings. In addition, inflammatory arthritis affects the nerves near your joints, which may lead to more pain.

Inflammatory arthritis can be severely painful and feel debilitating. Chronic joint inflammation can cause irreversible damage to your bones, tendons, and ligaments if left untreated.

Can affect the function of your organs

Long-lasting inflammatory processes can negatively affect and even damage your internal organs. It may cause pain in the inflamed area and, over time, lead to organ failure:

  • As previously discussed, when your lungs become inflamed, you can experience shortness of breath.
  • Kidney inflammation can seriously damage your kidneys if left untreated.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis result from an inflamed digestive system. They can severely affect a person’s quality of life and increase the risk of developing colon cancer.

Most of these are autoimmune diseases, which means they were caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells. These conditions are often associated with chronic inflammation.

Can cause a higher risk of chronic diseases

Chronic inflammation can lead to the development of chronic inflammatory diseases.

Studies have shown that long-term inflammation may seriously damage your healthy cells and tissue. If left untreated, persistent inflammation may even damage DNA and lead to the development of chronic diseases like prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

How Does Fasting Reduce Inflammation?

Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating pattern that consists of eating and fasting periods. Unlike most caloric restriction diets, IF does not prohibit any foods or encourage calorie counting. Instead, it focuses on the timing of your meals.

This eating pattern has been linked to various health benefits, one of which is reduced inflammation.

Recent findings suggest that intermittent fasting can reduce the number of monocytes—the pro-inflammatory cells released into areas undergoing an inflammatory process.

In addition, intermittent fasting may improve your eating habits and prevent overeating, which has long been associated with increased inflammation.

Aside from reducing inflammation, IF may also improve your blood sugar levels, boost your heart health, and initiate cell-repair processes.

If you’re looking to get into intermittent fasting, check out DoFasting—a mobile app designed to help you track your fasting journey. Log your fasts and stay aware of your progress.

Correlation Between 24-Hour Fasting and Inflammation

A new study found that prolonged periods of fasting, specifically 24-hour fasting, play a key role in reducing inflammation.

A 24-hour fast is an IF variation in which you abstain from food and beverages other than water for 24 hours. This type of fast is not sustainable, so it’s usually done only once every few weeks or months.

The study, published in the journal of the American Heart Association, shows promising evidence that fasting for 24 hours at least once a week elevates the levels of galectin-3—a protein that regulates inflammation.

It’s important to note that the research on the anti-inflammatory effects of intermittent fasting is still in its early stages, and more research is needed to establish a clear pattern. However, it’s clear that fasting can be of great help when fighting inflammation.

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Other Ways To Boost the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Fasting

There is no one-size-fits-all remedy to inflammation, as this process has many possible causes. Hence the importance of seeking medical help when suffering this condition—to track the actual source of the issue and treat the causes rather than the symptoms.

In the meantime, there are multiple ways you can mitigate the effects of an inflammatory process. One of them is fasting, as you already know, but there are other ways proven to work that you can easily combine with this eating habit.

Here are 4 things you can do to mitigate the effects of inflammation faster while intermittent fasting.

Follow a healthy lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle is vital in reducing inflammation, improving the markers of healthy aging, and reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases.

You can do many things to promote a healthy lifestyle, but the most important one is to break your bad habits and replace them with healthy ones.

The most common unhealthy habits you should consider quitting to reduce inflammation include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Eating junk food
  • Spending too much time on your phone

Replace these unhealthy habits with healthy habits, such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • 8 hours of sleep a day
  • A healthy eating pattern
  • A well-balanced diet
  • A reduced sugar intake (for example, by cutting out soda)

Intermittent fasting is no magic pill: it’s important to make conscious, healthy lifestyle choices to better your health in conjunction with fasting.

Get your weight under control

Gaining weight increases the risk of triggering an inflammatory response, while losing it (when overweight) reduces it.

Intermittent fasting has been proven to be an effective weight loss method. It helps reduce your daily calorie intake, which translates to weight loss. In addition, IF may trigger ketosis—a process in which your body burns stored fat for energy instead of sugar, which may help you lose a few unwanted pounds.

Combine intermittent fasting with a healthy diet and exercise, and you have a recipe for a healthy weight and lifestyle.

An excellent way to keep yourself on track is to be aware of your weight loss journey. DoFasting, a mobile app specializing in intermittent fasting, allows you to log your fasts and update your weight daily. This way, you can really see the impact of fasting on your weight.

Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet

A well-balanced diet goes a long way in helping fight inflammation.

Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods that you can add to your diet include:

  • Leafy greens such as spinach or kale
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries
  • Fish
  • Coffee and green tea

On the other hand, it’s also essential to reduce the number of foods you eat that contribute to inflammation.

Inflammatory foods to cut out include:

  • Red meat, such as beef and pork
  • Processed meat such as sausage and ham
  • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta
  • Fried food such as french fries and chicken nuggets
  • Alcohol

Food choices can help promote a healthy inflammatory response and support your body’s natural healing processes.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. Regular exercise helps you maintain your weight, reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, and keeps your mind clear. Most importantly, exercise fights inflammation by reducing inflammatory cell production.

If you want to feel your best, you should exercise regularly. But don’t worry—this does not mean that you have to hit the gym every day. In fact, overdoing it in the gym may cause muscle fatigue and lead to increased inflammation.

If you’re not used to exercising, a good strategy would be to start with lighter workouts, as light physical activity can significantly improve your overall health. This includes brisk walking, light jogging, cycling, and swimming.

You can also do numerous low-intensity exercises in the comfort of your home. Check out DoFasting’s workout library, where you can find fasting friendly-exercises that will help you in your efforts to reduce inflammation.

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Fasting and Inflammation: Key Considerations

Inflammation only becomes a problem when it doesn’t go away after your body has healed—in which case it becomes chronic. Long-lasting inflammation may cause body pains, increase blood pressure, and increase the risk of developing chronic disease.

Intermittent fasting has long been associated with anti-inflammatory effects. However, the exact mechanisms behind reducing inflammation with intermittent fasting are unclear.

You can reduce inflammation by combining intermittent fasting and a healthy lifestyle—stay physically active, work out at least 3 times a week, eat a well-balanced diet, cut out inflammatory foods, and maintain a healthy weight.


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This is an evidence-based article that includes scientific citations. DoFasting’s professional writers and editors prepared the content, which a team of medical experts verified to be accurate.

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