Can intermittent fasting do more than just help you lose weight?

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(CNN) — Intermittent fasting was a big trend for weight loss in 2019, but experts say it can do more than just help you shed some pounds.

Research compiled from studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that intermittent fasting can also reduce blood pressure and improve longevity. It’s unclear if these health benefits were a direct result of weight loss. Either way, maintaining a healthy weight is known to be essential when it comes to preventing many health problems.

The authors of the report focused on two types of fasting:

  • Daily restricted feeding — where you eat for 6 to 8 hours a day, then fast 16 to 18 hours
  • And 5:2 fasting — when you limit yourself to 500 calories for two days a week.

The report suggested doctors could instruct their patients to fast as a preventative method or treatment plan, for things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

But, according to the report, most Americans tend to eat three meals a day plus snacks, so doctors are currently less likely to suggest the method.

Because the research is relatively new, and the long-term effects require more research, the author suggests doctors monitor their patients and slowly increase the fasting duration.

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