Mount Sinai Researchers Discover That Fasting Reduces Inflammation and Improves Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
New research is showing the profound benefits—for longevity and fighting disease—of intermittent fasting
Fasting regimens have gained public and scientific interest in recent years, but fasting shouldn’t be dismissed as a fad. In a study published in Cell, Mount Sinai researchers found that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections.
While acute inflammation is a normal immune process that helps fight off infections, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for health, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
“Caloric restriction is known to improve inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, but the mechanisms by which reduced caloric intake controls inflammation have been poorly understood,” said senior author Miriam Merad, MD, PhD, Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Working with human and mouse immune cells, Dr. Merad and colleagues showed that intermittent fasting reduced the release of pro-inflammatory cells called “monocytes” in blood circulation. Further investigations revealed that during periods of fasting, these cells go into “sleep mode” and are less inflammatory than monocytes found in those who were fed.
“Monocytes are highly inflammatory immune cells that can cause serious tissue damage, and the population has seen an increasing amount in their blood circulation as a result of eating habits that humans have acquired in recent centuries,” said Dr. Merad.
“Considering the broad spectrum of diseases that are caused by chronic inflammation and the increasing number of patients affected by these diseases, there is an enormous potential in investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting,” said first author Stefan Jordan, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Researchers plan to continue trying to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which fasting improves inflammatory diseases, which could lead to novel preventive therapeutic strategies for the treatment of many human diseases.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.