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Intermittent Fasting And Inflammation: Are They Connected In 2024?


Reviewed by Maya Frankfurt, PhD
intermittent fasting and inflammation
Intermittent fasting may offer additional benefits beyond weight loss. Photo: Nghi Tran

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Ask anyone about weight loss strategies and you will find controversy. One topic that has sparked debate is the connection between intermittent fasting and inflammation. Do our eating patterns influence inflammation? Does intermittent fasting work? In this article, we will dive deep into scientific research to unlock the link between intermittent fasting and inflammation.

By examining the latest studies and expert insights, we try to reveal the truth behind this intriguing relationship. Prepare to embark on a journey where we explore the potential benefits, underlying mechanisms, and noteworthy findings surrounding intermittent fasting and inflammation. Get ready to finally discover how it may impact your health and well-being.

Does Fasting Reduce Inflammation?

Yes, intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation, improve metabolic health by assisting in controlling blood sugars and insulin in the body, and promote cell regeneration leading to less inflammation in the body. Each of these benefits may in turn lead to improved brain function and help in fighting against neurodegenerative diseases.

Intermittent Fasting And Inflammation

intermittent fasting and inflammation
Inflammation can cause pain.Photo: 9nong/Shutterstock

The connection between intermittent fasting and inflammation has been a topic of interest in recent research.[1] Several ways in which these two terms are connected or related include:

  • Reduction in chronic Inflammation: Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce markers of chronic inflammation in the body. By promoting autophagy (a cellular repair process) and reducing oxidative stress which damages cells, intermittent fasting can help mitigate chronic inflammation.
  • Impact on metabolic health: Intermittent fasting can improve metabolic health by improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. By addressing underlying issues such as insulin resistance, intermittent fasting can indirectly reduce inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome and related conditions.
  • Modulation of the immune system: Intermittent fasting has been found to influence the immune system by promoting immune cell regeneration and reducing inflammation. This modulation helps regulate the body’s immune response and potentially alleviates inflammation.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation[2] is the body’s response to injury, infection, or harmful stimuli. It is a complex process involving various cells and molecules. Inflammation can be acute inflammation or chronic.

Acute inflammation is a transient or brief response to infectious or injurious stimuli. It functions to contain the infection locally to protect the body. Signs of acute inflammation include

  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Heat. 
  • Pain. 

This type of inflammation is crucial for the body’s defense mechanisms and is generally resolved within a few days.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a long-lasting inflammatory response that persists for months or even years. It can be caused by factors such as persistent infections, autoimmune disorders, or exposure to harmful substances. Chronic inflammation is associated with various chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, and insulin resistance.

Signs of chronic inflammation vary depending on the affected area and underlying condition. Some common signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Fatigue: Persistent inflammation can lead to ongoing fatigue and decreased energy levels.
  • Joint pain: Chronic inflammation in the joints can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Recurrent infections: Impaired immune response due to chronic inflammation can make individuals more susceptible to infections.
  • Digestive issues: Inflammatory bowel diseases, characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Understanding the different types of inflammation and recognizing their signs is crucial for diagnosing and managing various conditions. 

Types Of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting[3] is a method of dieting that involves scheduled transitory periods of fasting and eating. There are several types of intermittent fasting, including alternate-day fasting, time-restricted eating, and caloric restriction.

  • Alternate day fasting: People using this method alternate between fasting days and regular eating days. On fasting days, individuals consume very few calories or no food at all. On eating days, they can decide to take their regular caloric intake. Alternate-day fasting has been promoted for its potential benefits in losing weight and reducing body fat.
  • Time-restricted eating: Time-restricted eating involves limiting the daily eating window to a specific number of hours. The most common approach is 16/8 intermittent fasting, where individuals fast for 16 hours and limit their eating to an 8-hour window. This approach helps you regulate blood sugar levels, improves metabolic health, and aids in weight loss.
  • Caloric restriction: Caloric restriction involves reducing overall caloric intake for a specific period. This can be achieved by consuming fewer calories than usual or through specific diet plans. Caloric restriction[4] combined with intermittent fasting has shown the potential to help people lose weight, improve metabolic syndrome, and decrease inflammation.

During intermittent fasting, engaging in regular physical exercise can further enhance the benefits. The following are common exercises during intermittent fasting:

  • Aerobic exercises: Exercises like brisk/fast walking and running can help burn calories and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Strength training: Involving resistance exercises like weightlifting or bodyweight exercises to build muscle mass and improve strength.
  • Yoga or pilates: Providing flexibility, balance, and stress reduction benefits. Doing this complements the overall well-being during intermittent fasting.

Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

Keyword intermittent fasting and inflammation
Eating fruits helps with intermittent fasting. Photo: ME Image/Shutterstock

Improved Metabolic Health & Weight Management

Intermittent fasting offers several health benefits, including improved metabolic health[5] and weight management:

  • Enhanced insulin sensitivity: Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, allowing cells to effectively utilize glucose for energy. This can help prevent insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Balanced blood sugar levels: By regulating the insulin response, intermittent fasting helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with prediabetes or diabetes. 

Improved Brain Function & Cognitive Health

Intermittent fasting also holds promising benefits for brain function and cognitive health:[6]

  • Enhanced neural plasticity: Intermittent fasting stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that supports the growth of new neurons and enhances brain plasticity. This can improve learning, memory, and overall cognitive function.
  • Neuroprotective effects: Research suggests that intermittent fasting may have neuroprotective effects. This means it has the potential to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It may help clear away toxic proteins and improve cellular resilience.

Potential Longevity & Disease Prevention

Intermittent fasting has been associated with potential longevity benefits and the prevention of certain diseases:

  • Cellular repair and regeneration: During fasting periods, the body undergoes cellular repair processes such as autophagy and apoptosis. These mechanisms help remove damaged cells, promote cellular rejuvenation, and support overall tissue health.
  • Protection against chronic diseases: Intermittent fasting may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It can improve factors like insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and inflammation.


Intermittent fasting offers a range of health benefits that go beyond weight management. It can improve metabolic health, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote weight loss. It has also shown potential in reducing inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases.

Furthermore, intermittent fasting may enhance brain function, protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and contribute to overall cognitive health. There are also indications that intermittent fasting could potentially promote longevity and prevent certain diseases.

However, it’s important to note that further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and individual variations of intermittent fasting. When considering options for managing inflammation, you can also consider the best CBD oil for inflammation. The benefits of CBD oil cannot be understated as studies have shown it to help modulate the immune system and regulate the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. It’s worth a shot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does intermittent fasting work for everyone?

Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, and individual results may vary.

Can intermittent fasting help with weight loss?

Yes, intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for weight loss.

What are the different types of intermittent fasting?

Common types include alternate-day fasting, time-restricted eating, and 5:2 fasting.

Is exercise allowed during intermittent fasting?

Yes, moderate exercise is generally safe and can complement the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Can intermittent fasting reduce inflammation?

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help reduce inflammation in the body.

Are there any potential side effects of intermittent fasting?

Side effects may include hunger, fatigue, and changes in mood or sleep patterns.

How long should one fast during intermittent fasting?

Fasting periods typically range from 12 to 16 hours, depending on the chosen approach.

Is intermittent fasting safe for people with certain medical conditions?

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting. This is especially important if you have specific medical conditions or concerns.

+ 6 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Aly, S.M. (2014). Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International journal of health sciences, [online] 8(3), pp.v–vi. doi:https://doi.org/10.12816/0023985.
  2. Chen, L., Deng, H., Cui, H., Fang, J., Zuo, Z., Deng, J., Li, Y., Wang, X. and Zhao, L. (2017). Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget, [online] 9(6), pp.7204–7218. doi:https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23208.
  3. Aly, S.M. (2014). Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International journal of health sciences, [online] 8(3), pp.v–vi. doi:https://doi.org/10.12816/0023985.
  4. Ganesan, K., Yacob Habboush and Dagogo-Jack, S. (2020). Calorie Restriction and Intermittent Fasting: Impact on Glycemic Control in People With Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum, [online] 33(2), pp.143–148. doi:https://doi.org/10.2337/ds19-0064.
  5. Izzah Vasim, Chaudry Nasir Majeed and DeBoer, M.D. (2022). Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients, [online] 14(3), pp.631–631. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030631.
  6. Jip Gudden, Alejandro Arias Vasquez and Bloemendaal, M. (2021). The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function. Nutrients, [online] 13(9), pp.3166–3166. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093166.


Amelia Smith is a health and medical writing specialist with a wealth of experience in creating informative and practicable health-related content for the general public. Starting out as a health columnist in her local newspaper many… See More