top of page
  • Adriano dos Santos

Fasting and Its Impact on Microbiota and Mitochondrial Health

Fasting has been a topic of interest in the field of health and wellness due to its potential benefits on various physiological processes. Recent studies have highlighted the favourable impact of fasting on microbiota composition and mitochondrial health. This article will delve into the therapeutic mechanisms of intermittent fasting and its clinical applications, supported by scientific research.

The therapeutic potential of intermittent fasting has gained attention in the management of various health conditions. Research suggests that intermittent fasting may improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, making it a valuable approach for individuals with type 2 diabetes (Halberg et al., 2005). Moreover, fasting has shown promise in reducing systemic inflammation, which is implicated in numerous chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders (Moro et al., 2016). Additionally, intermittent fasting has been associated with weight loss and improved metabolic health markers, making it a potential strategy for individuals aiming to lose weight or prevent metabolic syndrome (Tinsley et al., 2019). However, further research is needed to fully elucidate the long-term effects and optimal protocols for different populations.

Fasting and Microbiota Composition

Research has shown that fasting can influence the composition of the gut microbiota, which plays a crucial role in human health. A study conducted by Belzer and de Vos (2012) revealed that fasting-induced changes in nutrient availability lead to alterations in the gut microbiota, specifically an increase in the abundance of beneficial bacteria such as Akkermansia muciniphila. Additionally, intermittent fasting has been associated with an increase in bacterial diversity, which is generally considered a marker of gut health (Cotillard et al., 2013). These findings suggest that fasting can positively impact the microbiota composition, promoting a more favourable gut environment.

Fasting and Mitochondrial Health

Mitochondria, often referred to as the powerhouse of the cell, are crucial for energy production and cellular function. Fasting has been found to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, enhancing the efficiency of energy metabolism. This effect is attributed to the activation of various signalling pathways, including AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) (Canto et al., 2009). Activation of AMPK and SIRT1 leads to increased mitochondrial activity and improved cellular stress resistance. Moreover, intermittent fasting has been shown to induce autophagy, a process that removes damaged mitochondria and promotes the generation of new, healthy mitochondria (Heilbronn et al., 2005). By enhancing mitochondrial health, fasting may greatly affect overall cellular function and energy metabolism.

Clinical Considerations: Chronic Disease and Mitochondrial Health

A comprehensive analysis of 15 studies exploring the impact of diverse fasting techniques and caloric restriction on the gut microbiome and its metabolites has confirmed the potential positive influence of fasting interventions on the progression of chronic diseases (de Cabo & Mattson, 2019). Moreover, a recent publication in The New England Journal of Medicine has highlighted the association between therapeutic fasting treatments and various metabolic factors, including enhanced mitochondrial quality and function, which ultimately leads to improved energy metabolism and overall health (de Cabo & Mattson, 2019). Lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise have proven effective in supporting mitochondrial biogenesis (Memme et al., 2021; Chen et al., 2020). Ongoing research on fasting continues to advance, with a particular emphasis on exploring its therapeutic applications in addressing chronic diseases and optimizing the trajectory of patients' health.


  1. de Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease [published correction appears in N Engl J Med. 2020;382(3):298; N Engl J Med. 2020;382(10):978]. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(26):2541-2551. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1905136

  2. Cignarella F, Cantoni C, Ghezzi L, et al. Intermittent fasting confers protection in CNS autoimmunity by altering the gut microbiota. Cell Metab. 2018;27(6):1222-1235.e6. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2018.05.006

  3. Rangan P, Choi I, Wei M, et al. Fasting-mimicking diet modulates microbiota and promotes intestinal regeneration to reduce inflammatory bowel disease pathology. Cell Rep. 2019;26(10):2704-2719.e6. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2019.02.019

  4. Schmidt NS, Lorentz A. Dietary restrictions modulate the gut microbiota: implications for health and disease. Nutr Res. 2021;89:10-22. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2021.03.001

  5. Lilja S, Stoll C, Krammer U, et al. Five days periodic fasting elevates levels of longevity related Christensenellaand sirtuin expression in humans. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(5):2331. doi:10.3390/ijms22052331

  6. Biagi E, Franceschi C, Rampelli S, et al. Gut microbiota and extreme longevity. Curr Biol. 2016;26(11):1480-1485. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.016

  7. Chen C, Zhou M, Ge Y, Wang X. SIRT1 and aging related signaling pathways. Mech Ageing Dev. 2020;187:111215. doi:10.1016/j.mad.2020.111215

  8. Zhang J, Xiang H, Liu J, Chen Y, He RR, Liu B. Mitochondrial sirtuin 3: new emerging biological function and therapeutic target. Theranostics. 2020;10(18):8315-8342. doi:10.7150/thno.45922

  9. Memme JM, Erlich AT, Phukan G, Hood DA. Exercise and mitochondrial health. J Physiol. 2021;599(3):803-817. doi:10.1113/JP278853

5 views0 comments
bottom of page