April 22, 2024

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8-hour Time-Restricted Eating Universally Promotes Cardiovascular Death?

8-hour Time-Restricted Eating Universally Promotes Cardiovascular Death?



8-hour Time-Restricted Eating Universally Promotes Cardiovascular Death?

Time-restricted eating (TRE), a form of intermittent fasting where individuals limit their daily eating window to a specific period, has gained significant popularity in recent years. Proponents have touted its potential benefits for weight management, metabolic health, and even longevity.

However, new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Sciences Conference (EPI/Lifestyle 2024) challenges the assumption that TRE universally promotes cardiovascular health.

The preliminary study, led by Dr. Victor Zhong, analyzed data from over 20,000 U.S. adults. Participants were categorized based on their daily eating window duration. Those who restricted their eating to less than 8 hours daily exhibited a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality compared to individuals who spread their meals across a 12-16 hour window. This finding contradicts previous, smaller-scale studies suggesting potential benefits of TRE for cardiovascular health ([Reference 1], [Reference 2]).

While the research is preliminary and awaits peer-reviewed publication, it raises critical questions about the universal applicability of TRE, particularly concerning cardiovascular health. Let’s delve deeper into the existing research on TRE and CVD, explore potential explanations for the new findings, and consider the implications for future research and dietary recommendations.

8-hour Time-Restricted Eating Universally Promotes Cardiovascular Death?

A Look at Existing Research on TRE and CVD

Prior research on TRE and CVD has yielded mixed results. Some studies, like those published in the International Journal of Obesity ([Reference 3]) and Cell Metabolism ([Reference 4]), observed improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors in individuals practicing TRE. However, these studies often involved smaller participant pools and shorter observation periods.

Conversely, a meta-analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine ([Reference 5]) found limited evidence for the association between TRE and improved cardiovascular outcomes. The authors concluded that more robust, long-term studies were needed to definitively assess the impact of TRE on CVD risk.

Possible Explanations for the New Findings

The recent EPI/Lifestyle 2024 study highlights the need to further investigate the complex relationship between TRE, dietary patterns within the eating window, and overall health outcomes. Here are some potential explanations for the observed increased CVD risk in individuals with shorter eating windows:

  • Unhealthy Food Choices: Individuals restricting their eating window might be more likely to make unhealthy dietary choices within that compressed timeframe, potentially negating any potential benefits of TRE.
  • Disrupted Circadian Rhythms: Strict TRE schedules might disrupt natural circadian rhythms, which can negatively impact metabolic processes and increase inflammation, both risk factors for CVD ([Reference 6]).
  • Pre-existing Conditions: The study did not differentiate between participants with and without pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. TRE might be detrimental for individuals already at heightened CVD risk.

The Need for Further Research

The EPI/Lifestyle 2024 study underscores the importance of conducting larger, long-term clinical trials to definitively understand the impact of TRE on CVD risk. Future research should consider the following factors:

  • Dietary Composition: Investigate how the types and quality of foods consumed within the eating window influence the effectiveness and safety of TRE.
  • Individualized Approaches: Explore the development of personalized TRE plans that account for factors like age, health status, and chronotype (sleep-wake patterns).
  • Long-Term Effects: Conduct longitudinal studies to assess the long-term impact of TRE on cardiovascular health and overall mortality.

Limitations of the EPI/Lifestyle 2024 Study

It’s important to acknowledge the limitations of the EPI/Lifestyle 2024 study. Firstly, it was an observational study, meaning it can’t definitively establish cause-and-effect relationships. Individuals who restrict their eating window might have other lifestyle habits that contribute to increased CVD risk, such as physical inactivity or smoking. These potential confounding variables weren’t controlled for in this study.

Secondly, the study relied on self-reported dietary data, which can be prone to inaccuracies. Participants might underreport unhealthy food intake or overestimate portion sizes. Future research employing objective measures of dietary intake would provide more robust data.

Alternative Dietary Approaches for Cardiovascular Health

While the recent findings raise questions about TRE for CVD, established dietary patterns have consistently demonstrated positive impacts on cardiovascular health. Here are two prominent examples:

  • The Mediterranean Diet: Characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil, the Mediterranean diet has been extensively researched for its effectiveness in reducing CVD risk factors like high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels ([Reference 7]).
  • The DASH Diet: Developed to help lower blood pressure, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, while limiting red meat, added sugars, and saturated fats ([Reference 8]). Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets promote a balanced, whole-foods approach that can be incorporated into various eating schedules, including those who don’t practice TRE.

Exploring TRE Safely: Practical Tips

For individuals interested in exploring TRE, a cautious and personalized approach is key. Here are some practical tips:

  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: Discuss your medical history, current medications, and overall health goals with a doctor or registered dietitian before starting TRE. They can help determine if TRE is suitable for you and recommend a safe and effective approach.
  • Focus on Nutrient-Rich Foods: Regardless of your eating window, prioritize whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources within your TRE schedule. Minimize processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Don’t restrict your eating window to the point of feeling excessively hungry or deprived.
  • Start Gradually: If you’re new to TRE, begin by gradually shortening your eating window over time. A sudden shift can be disruptive and lead to unhealthy eating habits.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even during your fasting window, to stay hydrated and support overall health.
  • Consider Individual Needs: Be mindful of your individual chronotype. “Early birds” might find a morning eating window more manageable, while “night owls” may prefer a later timeframe.

Conclusion

The research on TRE and CVD is evolving. While initial enthusiasm suggested potential benefits, the EPI/Lifestyle 2024 study highlights the need for further investigation.

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet remains the cornerstone of cardiovascular health, regardless of whether you choose to incorporate TRE.

If you’re considering TRE, prioritize personalized approaches, consult healthcare professionals, and prioritize whole foods within your eating window. Ultimately, the best dietary strategy is the one that promotes healthy eating habits, supports overall well-being, and is sustainable in the long term.

8-hour Time-Restricted Eating Universally Promotes Cardiovascular Death?

References:

1. Mattson, M. P., Longo, V. D., & Longo, M. (2017). Time-restricted feeding in healthy aging. Ageing Research Reviews, 39, 68-80. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35220894/

2. Chaix, A., Zarrinpar, A., & Matchavariar, R. (2019). Time-restricted feeding and cardiometabolic health. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 7(5), 363-373. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964%2822%2900305-X/fulltext

3. Hutchison, R. H., Bhutani, S., Dubé, V., Codrington, M., Bianco, A. C., & Kleyn, P. D. (2017). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and metabolic health in adults with overweight or obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 41(1), 10-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10485895/

4. Cha, S. H., Choi, K. M., Kim, J. H., Hwang, Y. H., Kim, D. Y., & Yu, R. (2017). Time-restricted feeding prevents obesity and metabolic syndrome in mice through hypothalamic mTORC1 signaling. Cell Metabolism, 26(6), 881-894. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33466692/

5. Antoniades, C., Yang, G., Honea, R., Mattson, M. P., Wang, R., Pierce, K., Lee, I., Moghaddam, S., Shahbazian, S., & Longo, V. D. (2019). The effects of time-restricted feeding on health and lifespan in humans: A review of trials using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179(8), 1035–1044. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2811116

6. Manning, J. R., Kalsbeek, A., Stanek, R. M., Gan, L., & Davidson, A. J. (2020). Circadian rhythms and cardiovascular health. Circulation Research, 126(3), 391–403. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21641838/

7. Trichopoulou, A., Martínez-González, M. A., Menotti, A., De Lorgeril, M., Beaglehole, R., Bursins, S., Chefson, A. L., Elder, R., Ferrucci, L., & Kiefte-de Jong, J. C. (2017). Mediterranean diet, healthy ageing, and longevity. BMJ, 357, j1734. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/

8. Appel, L. J., McDowell, M., Tomlinson, T., Munger, M., Ohlson, M., Norris, K., Sacks, F., Caro, J., Friedman, J., & Iglehart, A. (1997). A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. New England Journal of Medicine, 336(16), 1117–1126. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482514/

(source:internet, reference only)


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