Various types of fasts are in vogue for their many benefits. However, the biggest benefit of fasting is rebooting your immune system.
A study published in Cell Stem Cell showed that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against damage of the immune system and induce regeneration of it.
In mice as well as patients undergoing chemotherapy in phase 1 clinical trial, two to four days of fasting cycles over the course of six months, led to significantly lower white blood cell count. This was followed by a trigger to regenerate stem cells associated with the generation of blood and the immune system.
Fasting caused energy conservation, which involved recycling immune cells that were damaged or not needed. Recycling means older cells were destroyed and newer cells were produced to replace them. Some of the nutrients from the older cells were reused in the process by the body.
During each fasting cycle, this reduction of white blood cells triggered stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. The fasting also lowered IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone associated with ageing, tumour growth, and the risk of cancer.
Fasting for 72 hours before chemotherapy also reduced chemotoxicity.
Prolonged fasting—two to four days of fasting cycles—may have positive implications for chemotherapy, tumour growth, cancer risk, damaged immune system, ageing, and autoimmune conditions.
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- On this website: Benefits of intermittent fasting
First published on: 7th June 2014
Image credit: Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay
Last updated on: 21st June 2022