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One Major Effect of Fasting, Says New Study

Even if you don't fast for weight loss, science suggests the practice may relieve an uncomfortable problem.

Fasting is a widely debated topic in nutrition, with some professionals suggesting it supports weight loss, while others call out the practice for its alleged health hazards. Now, a new study suggests that fasting may help calm your tummy when it's perhaps most necessary, totally apart from any desire to lose weight.

A team of scientists at Canada's University of British Columbia have discovered that fasting prevented serious symptoms of food poisoning (specifically, Salmonella enterica) in mice. When Salmonella was administered orally to mice that had fasted for 48 hours prior to and during the exposure to the bacteria, they were less likely to experience "full-blown infection," the scientists say, when compared to mice that had been fed.

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The scientists say that fasting nearly eliminated "all intestinal tissue damage and inflammation," which can be prime causes for gastrointestinal discomfort when an individual is suffering from food poisoning.

Young African Woman Lying On Sofa Suffering From Stomach Ache

The research team explains their finding by stating: "When food is limited, the microbiome appears to sequester the nutrients that remain, preventing pathogens from acquiring the energy they need to infect the host."

A few "buts": The team acknowledges that to fast or not to fast to prevent food poisoning symptoms is itself a hotly debated topic in nutrition and G.I. medicine. It's rare that any one study is entirely conclusive.

Plus, animal studies don't always parlay directly to similar human effects… and, since you can't usually anticipate when you'll be faced with food poisoning, how would you know when to fast in advance?

Still, perhaps this study offers a solution when you're feeling a little stomach upset. It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor about a medical situation—but this research suggests in some cases, giving the tummy a rest (while staying hydrated in the meantime, we might add) may be good medicine.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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