Acute Fasting: Good for Anxiety?

While everyone else enjoys their down time in the outdoors, or out shopping with friends, or even just lazing about watching tv, I can usually be found on my laptop looking up new and interesting facts about anxiety. Don’t worry – I do know how to have fun. But I also enjoy finding cool new research and ideas related to mental health, and this is one of them.

Today’s post is about an article I came across stating that acute fasting may be beneficial for anxiety. I have to say, on my list of things that help anxiety, I did not suspect I would see fasting on there.


The authors of the article I read (cited below) concluded that acute fasting inhibits central caspase-1 (associated with neuroinflammation) activity, thereby reducing anxiety-like behaviors in rats. The acute fast was essentially a 24 hour fast, with only water being provided. Put simply, acute fasting reduces neuroinflammation, and the that decrease in inflammation seems to have an effect on anxiety behaviors.

Of course, as mentioned, this study was done on rats – not humans – so we can’t jump to too many conclusions here.

But it’s an interesting idea. In my search for more, I came across a lot of sites that supported this idea, and even people who have claimed that it’s worked for them. So what’s the connection between fasting, inflammation, and anxiety?

Fasting, when coupled with drinking enough water, may help the body detoxify by freeing up the organs from their usual digestion-related responsibilities, allowing them the time to get rid of any built up toxins. This could account for a reduction in inflammation. The reduced inflammation may also be in part because certain foods eliminated from the consumer’s diet are typically pro-inflammatory (refined, processed, sugar-laden food). In this way, the fact that these foods aren’t introduced to the body contributes to a reduction in inflammation.

Although I’m interested in seeing where the literature goes on this, I’m not sure it’s something  I would recommend. I know for myself, a central theme in my anxiety is this idea of wanting to control things, and of wanting to reach perfection in everything. Although acute fasting could be used to reduce anxiety, it could also be an outlet for it to come out as well.

What I took the most out of this was less the link between fasting and anxiety, and more the fact that reduced neuroinflammation seems to reduce anxiety symptoms.
What do you guys think? Have you or would you ever try this?

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Works Cited

Acute fasting inhibits central caspase-1 activity reducing anxiety-like behavior and increasing novel object and object location recognition. Towers, Albert E. et al. Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental , Volume 71 , 70 – 82

2 responses to “Acute Fasting: Good for Anxiety?”

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