Do you suffer from an autoimmune condition and wonder if intermittent fasting could help?
Maybe your flare-ups are taking over your life and keeping you from doing the things you enjoy the most…
Perhaps you’ve tried everything conventional medicine offers, but you’re still not finding relief…
You’re willing to do whatever it takes to reclaim control of your health, and you’ve heard intermittent fasting might be the answer for your healing autoimmune diet plan. But in the back of your mind, you keep wondering — is it right for you?
I’m Dr. Laura Paris, an autoimmune specialist for women. Over the years, I’ve seen the benefits of intermittent fasting for women with autoimmune conditions. And for good reason! Studies have shown that intermittent fasting leads to a notable reduction in circulating immune cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines — suppressing inflammation and optimizing immune responses.1
However, I also know that intermittent fasting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Before you start fasting, it’s important to understand your unique health history, lifestyle, and symptoms.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the intermittent fasting pros and cons for women with autoimmune conditions and provide tips on listening to your body and making the right decision for you.
So let’s dive in!
Listen to Your Body and Mind: The First Step Towards Healing
Before embarking on any dietary changes, it’s important to listen to your mind and understand your unique needs. Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to pay attention to any signals your mind is sending you.
That means you shouldn’t subscribe to any dogma or trends that don’t align with your individual needs. For example, intermittent fasting may work for some women with autoimmune conditions, but it may not be appropriate for others. It’s important to approach any new healing diet or lifestyle change with an open mind and a willingness to adjust and adapt as needed.
Intermittent fasting, for example, may help reduce inflammation and promote insulin sensitivity — but if it leads to increased stress levels or mental health concerns, it’s not worth it.
Likewise, following a strict diet that restricts certain foods may be effective for some people, but if it leads to anxiety or disordered eating patterns, it’s not sustainable or healthy in the long run.
In fact, there are certain populations who should avoid fasting altogether…
If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a history of disordered eating or mental health concerns — intermittent fasting is not safe for you.
If you fall outside those categories, you’ll need to gently explore what works for you and your unique needs. This may require some trial and error. And it’s always best to seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider who can help you navigate the twists and turns of autoimmune conditions and dietary interventions.
And just like it’s important to listen to your mind, you’ll need to pay close attention to how your body responds to intermittent fasting. If you notice feeling shaky, hungry, “brain-foggy”, irritable, or unable to concentrate — fasting may not be the right solution for you.
The most important thing is to approach any dietary changes with self-compassion and self-care. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when deciding if intermittent fasting is for you…
Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire: Managing Stress and Autoimmune Conditions
Stress can do a number on your autoimmune condition and exacerbate your symptoms. In fact, an extensive study conducted in Sweden over the course of over three decades revealed that stress-related disorders lead to an increased risk of autoimmune disease.2
Fasting can be an additional stressor on the body, leading to increased inflammation and fatigue. And that’s the exact opposite of what we’re going for here, right?
So if you’re prone to stress and anxiety, I recommend exploring other alternatives for managing your autoimmune symptoms. And to get your cortisol levels under control in the meantime, try engaging in calming activities like yoga, meditation, or gentle exercise. The more effectively you manage your stress levels, the more you’ll improve your overall well-being.
Pay Attention to Your Blood Sugar Levels: Finding Balance in Your Diet
Women with autoimmune conditions may struggle with imbalanced blood sugar levels, making fasting challenging. It’s important to prioritize stable blood sugar levels to avoid negative symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, or cravings.
If you deal with low blood sugar, intermittent fasting might not be for you. Because what you actually need to do to balance your blood sugar levels is eat more frequently. Instead, you’ll benefit from a diet rich in protein and healthy fats. If you can prioritize eating a protein-driven breakfast first thing in the morning, you’ll find that your energy (and mood!) are more likely to remain stable throughout the day.
The Insulin-Resistance Connection: How Intermittent Fasting Can Help
On the other hand… If you’re a woman with high blood sugar, intermittent fasting might be a healthy lifestyle choice for you. By taking a break from food, you can lower your blood sugar and insulin levels, allowing your cells to become more insulin sensitive.
But, as a reminder, you don’t want to overdo it. If fasting causes constant physiological stress on your body, it can lead to more inflammation.
Remember to Take It Slow: Navigating Dietary Changes with Care
When it comes to trying out intermittent fasting, it’s essential to take a gradual approach and consult with a qualified healthcare provider — particularly if you have an autoimmune condition. Fasting can significantly affect your health, and a healthcare provider or autoimmune specialist can help you determine the best course of action based on your unique needs and health history.
It’s also crucial to pay close attention to your body’s responses to dietary changes, as this will help you adjust your approach accordingly. By listening to your body, seeking expert guidance, and proceeding at the right pace, you can maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting while minimizing any potential risks.
The Road to Remission: Holistic Support for Women with Autoimmune Conditions
If you’re struggling with an autoimmune condition, know there is hope. Through dietary changes, stress reduction, and other lifestyle interventions, remission is absolutely possible.
I’m Dr. Laura Paris, an autoimmune specialist. I invite you to join Road to Remission, my holistic, 4-month program for women who are motivated to reverse their autoimmune conditions and take control of their health.
With the right support and guidance, you CAN find relief from your autoimmune symptoms and restore your energy, vitality, and zest for life. Relief is here. All you have to do is take the first step!
1 Okawa T, Nagai M, Hase K. Dietary Intervention Impacts Immune Cell Functions and Dynamics by Inducing Metabolic Rewiring. Front Immunol. 2021 Feb 4;11:623989. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.623989. PMID: 33613560; PMCID: PMC7890027.
2 Song H, Fang F, Tomasson G, Arnberg FK, Mataix-Cols D, Fernández de la Cruz L, Almqvist C, Fall K, Valdimarsdóttir UA. Association of Stress-Related Disorders With Subsequent Autoimmune Disease. JAMA. 2018 Jun 19;319(23):2388-2400. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.7028. PMID: 29922828; PMCID: PMC6583688.