Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds, Sarah Knapton, June 2014
Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly.
…new research (from 2014) suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.
Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age.
fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,
And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.
Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.
During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.
In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four days over a six-month period.
Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to ageing and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,”
the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.
“More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”
However, some British experts were sceptical of the research.
Dr Graham Rook, emeritus professor of immunology at University College London, said the study sounded “improbable”.
“There is some interesting data here. It sees that fasting reduces the number and size of cells and then re-feeding at 72 hours saw a rebound.
Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at UCL, said “That could be potentially useful because that is not such a long time that it would be terribly harmful to someone with cancer.
“But I think the most sensible way forward would be to synthesize this effect with drugs. I am not sure fasting is the best idea.
This is a sad commentary on our “medicalization” of all healthcare. Instead of educating patients to manipulate their diet, some pharmaceutical company will be allowed to make obscene profits from research paid for by our taxes.
I’m skeptical about this information because I was not able to find this study in the NIH Library of Medicine (NML).