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In the setting of obesity, adipocytes (fat cells) enlarge to accommodate immense quantities of fat. These specialized cells eventually become dysfunctional, releasing inflammatory proteins and activating immune cells called macrophages. In turn, macrophage activation promotes a vicious cycle of inflammation and further dysfunction, increasing the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. A recent review and meta-analysis found that time-restricted eating reduces inflammatory markers and leptin.

Researchers reviewed the findings of randomized-controlled trials investigating the effects of time-restricted eating on inflammation. Their analysis included 25 trials involving 936 participants.

They found that time-restricted eating reduced participants' pro-inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, TNF-alpha, and interleukin-6) and increased levels of adiponectin, a protein produced by adipose tissue that regulates glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown in the body. Time-restricted eating also reduced the participants' leptin, a hormone that drives food intake.

These findings suggest that time-restricted eating is a viable strategy for reducing inflammation. Previous research has shown that time-restricted eating promotes weight loss in people with obesity.

Time-restricted eating is a dietary pattern that limits food intake to certain hours of the day without overtly reducing caloric intake. It exploits the body’s innate 24-hour patterns and provides the body an essential downtime where it can focus on DNA and cellular repair and restoration rather than digestion. The most common version of time-restricted eating is a “16:8” pattern, where all the day’s calories are consumed within an eight-hour window, leaving 16 hours for fasting, including the hours during which a person is asleep. Learn about the many health benefits associated with time-restricted eating in this clip featuring Dr. Satchin Panda.

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