A popular diet option known as intermittent fasting has been shown to help people who are struggling to manage their insulin levels. It also seems to protect against fatty liver disease. Now, a study suggests this strategy might also lower fat in another vital organ: the pancreas.
A significant amount of research has been conducted on the causes and impacts of fatty liver, but relatively little attention has been paid to fat accumulation in the pancreas and how this can raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition wanted to learn more about this area.
They separated a number of overweight mice into two groups. The first group could eat whatever they wanted all day long. The second group received unlimited food one day, but the next day weren’t fed at all. After five weeks, the researchers compared them and found that pancreatic fat cells had accumulated in Group 1, while the mice in Group 2 had hardly any fat deposits in the pancreas.
It’s important to note this strategy differs from the usual form of intermittent fasting that people practice. Typically, people on the diet use the 16-8 method, meaning they eat only during an eight-hour window and fast the remaining 16 hours, usually overnight and into the next day. One meal, typically breakfast, is omitted.
Another method is to only consume between 500 and 600 calories two days a week.
Despite the differences between the study methods and the typical fasting patterns, the researchers said the findings suggest intermittent fasting could be a promising approach to preventing diabetes. It’s noninvasive, drug-free and, for many, it’s easy to integrate into everyday life.