BACKGROUND: Fasting interventions have shown effectiveness in alleviating stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, no quantitative analysis has been carried out thus far. The objective was to determine the effectiveness of fasting interventions on stress, anxiety and depression and if these interventions were associated with increased or decreased fatigue/energy. METHODS: Overall, 11 studies and 1436 participants were included in the quantitative analyses. RESULTS: After limiting analyses to randomized controlled trials with low risk of bias, we found that fasting groups had lower anxiety (b = -0.508, p = 0.038), depression levels (b= -0.281, p = 0.012) and body mass index compared to controls without increased fatigue. There was no publication bias and no heterogeneity for these results. These interventions were safe, even in patients with type 2 diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: These results should be taken with a caveat. These results are preliminary and encouraging and fasting appears to be a safe intervention. Data are not sufficient to recommend one fasting intervention more than the others. No study was carried out in psychiatric populations and further trials should be carried out in these populations that may be good candidates for fasting interventions.
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