Health Experts Warn Against Diet Fads and Intermittent Fasting

by Ella

Experts in the field of health caution against the growing popularity of diet fads and intermittent fasting, citing potential risks to cardiovascular health and overall well-being. Tanuja Nesari, Director of the All India Institute of Ayurveda, emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy interval between meals, advising that the gap between major meals should be no less than three hours and no more than six. Nesari’s remarks came during a discussion on preliminary findings from a research paper on time-restricted eating, commonly referred to as intermittent fasting. This eating pattern has been associated with a 91% increase in the risk of death from heart disease, according to the study, which was presented as an abstract at a recent American Heart Association conference in Chicago.

While the study itself has not yet undergone peer review or been published in a scientific journal, health experts in India echo concerns about the potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting and other trendy diet plans. Dr. Nesari stressed the significance of meal timing according to traditional Indian medicine, highlighting the optimal digestive capacity during daylight hours. She recommended consuming two nutritious and balanced meals between sunrise and sunset, with intervals of no less than three hours and no more than six between them. Moreover, Dr. Nesari emphasized the importance of a natural fasting period of approximately 12 hours overnight, suggesting light, easily digestible snacks if hunger strikes during this time.


Ambuj Roy, a cardiologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), emphasized the importance of focusing on the quality and composition of food. Dr. Roy advocated for a low-inflammatory diet that is sustainable in the long term, cautioning against the allure of diet fads.


Recent research underscores the global significance of dietary patterns, with over one billion people worldwide living with obesity, according to a study published in The Lancet. The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among adults since 1990 and quadrupled among children and adolescents. The study also highlights the concerning prevalence of overweight individuals, with 43% of adults falling into this category in 2022.


The impact of diet-related health issues is particularly pronounced in India, where cardiovascular diseases (CVD) rank as the leading cause of death and disability. Additionally, India has the world’s second-highest number of diabetic patients, with nearly 75 million individuals diagnosed in 2021. Both CVD and diabetes are closely linked to dietary habits, underscoring the importance of prudent nutritional choices.


V. Mohan, chairman and chief of diabetology at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre and Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, emphasized the need for personalized dietary approaches and cautioned against a one-size-fits-all mentality. Mohan emphasized that intermittent fasting should not be seen as a license to indulge in unhealthy eating habits, particularly for individuals with pre-existing health conditions. He advised seeking guidance from qualified professionals when embarking on dietary changes to prevent or manage health complications.



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