Intermittent fasting is the use of repeated cycles of fasting, whereby food is eliminated for varying lengths of time. One of the metabolic consequences of this is a significant reduction in inflammatory pathways. It has been speculated that this reduction in inflammation is the pivotal factor in the health effects of such diets. It is known that inflammatory pathways are activated in mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and this is thought to relate to the downstream effects of stress hormones, which activate inflammatory pathways in the brain causing a change to brain chemistry. Animal models show that intermittent fasting may provide significant health effects particularly when combined with other nutritional strategies. For example in rats, intermittent fasting along with the Ayurvedic herbs Withania somnifera and Tinospora cordifolia conferred significant protection from the development of anxious behaviour following exposure to experimental stress, perhaps through a downregulation of systemic inflammation.
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