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Sustainable positive effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting in rheumatoid arthritis


The short-term positive effects of intermittent fasting during the month of Ramadan on rheumatic inflammatory diseases have been previously evaluated. The objective of this study was to assess the sustainability of these effects on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity. This prospective study included 35 patients with RA, who observed fasting during Ramadan 2019. The disease activity was assessed and compared between three time points: T1 (6 months before the beginning of Ramadan), T2 (during the month between the 7th day of fasting and the 7th day after Ramadan), and T3 (averagely 3.4 months after fasting). The disease activity score 28 (DAS28) was used to evaluate the disease activity. After a significant decrease of all disease activity parameters between T1 and T2, a gradual increase of clinical and biological outcomes was seen between T2 and T3. Except for CRP, which was significantly higher at T3 (p = 0.02), the changes of the other disease activity parameters were not statistically significant. By reference to baseline data (T1), the decrease of ESR, DAS28 CRP, and DAS28 ESR induced after Ramadan fast was maintained until T3, with statistically significant differences. We can therefore conclude that this study has been conducted at the beginning of the fading-out of the effects of Ramadan fast, and that the duration of 3 months may be the recommended interval between fasting periods to maintain the positive effects of intermittent fasting on RA activity.

Key Points

• Intermittent fasting can induce a rapid improvement of rheumatoid arthritis activity.

• The positive effects of this model of fasting can last up to 3 months.

• The recommended interval between fasting periods may be estimated at 3 months.

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Correspondence to Dorra Ben Nessib.

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Ben Nessib, D., Maatallah, K., Ferjani, H. et al. Sustainable positive effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting in rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Rheumatol 41, 399–403 (2022).

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  • Intermittent fasting
  • Positive effects
  • Rheumatoid arthritis