Cell Stem Cell published a study that found fasting can protect your immunity from damage, and trigger regeneration of the immune system, activating stem cells to renew themselves.
In a phase 1 human clinical trial involving chemo patients and mice, long durations of time fasting helped to lower the count of white blood cells.
When it came to mice, fasting “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the ways of signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are behind the functions of blood and immune systems, the research found.
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system.”
The study implied that fasting for long periods of time, for 2-4 days in 6 months can kill off old, damaged immune cells and create new ones.
The research further discovers that it has the ability to build tolerance of chemotherapy and for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders.
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said corresponding author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.
Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“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,” Longo said.
“What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”
Fasting for an extended amount of time can force the body to use up its storage of ketones, glucose and fat, as well as breaking down white blood cells. With every fasting cycle, elimination of white blood cells can trigger regeneration of brand new immune cells. Fasting in prolonged amounts of time was found to lower levels of the enzyme PKA, which is an effect found by the Longo team to improve longevity in organisms. Fasting also reduced levels of IGF-1, a hormone that is linked to tumor growth, risk of cancer and aging.
“PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into a regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune 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.
Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.” Fasting also helped in toxicity prevention in a clinical trial involving a small group of participants. Going past Longo’s research, the group of people were tested for a 72 hour period after receiving chemotherapy.
“While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. “More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”
“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” said Longo, whose lab is in the process of conducting further research on controlled dietary interventions and stem cell regeneration in both animal and clinical studies.
The Benefits of Fasting
1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease:
In Baltimore, researchers from the National Institute on aging, discovered that fasting once or twice a week can prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Its recommended that you cut your daily caloric intake to 500 calories a day, for two days out of the seven to see positive effects in the brain.
2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes:
Your risk of diabetes and heart disease is greatly reduced when you go a day without eating. Its been discovered that the body secretes a significant amount of human growth hormone, which burns fat and speeds up the metabolism. Burning off fat has been found to lessen your risk for diabetes and heart disease, and now, fasting is becoming a chosen form of treatment amongst some doctors.
3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells:
The scientific journal of aging discovered that patients with cancer who involved fasting in their treatment plan, received less side effects from chemotherapy. Every test and study out there has shown fasting enhances survival, prevents further growth of tumors and from spreading.
The National Institute on Aging studied a type of breast cancer to better understand how fasting affects cancer. From fasting, cancer cells worked on trying to build new proteins and took action in dividing and growing.
The cancer cell is committing suicide practically, because it has to keep working to build new tumors and spread. The cancer cell is essentially working to supplement whats missing on the blood thats crucial for cancer cells to thrive.