If you haven’t tried it, you’ve probably thought about it. You may even have friends who speak highly of it. And you’ve definitely read about its benefits — weight loss and renewed energy to name just a few. That big “it” we’re talking about is fasting. Three day fasts have become incredibly popular. And while it’s not an easy undertaking, people are thrilled with the results. Today, though, FoodFacts.com learned that fasting may well do more than help with some quick weight loss and energy rejuvenation.
Fasting for three days can kick-start stem cells into a rejuvenation mode that can bolster the immune system, especially for the elderly and those undergoing chemotherapy, according to new research from University of Southern California.
The research results of blood vessel cells’ ability to repair and re-grow damaged tissues and organs were discussed at a recent conference, “Ansary Stem Cell Symposium: Is Regenerative Medicine Ready for Prime Time?”.
“The results suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said Tanya Dorff, a co-author of the research published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
The study reveals those fasting for a few days can regenerate their entire immune system as it creates new white blood cells critical for battling infection.
“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,” states Valter Longo, corresponding author of the study and a professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology.
While there have been studies stating that fasting is not a good thing, in this case it can prove beneficial, say the researchers given the immune system is not healthy either due to age or 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,” states a release on the study.
The fasting, whether for two or four days, drives the human body into a “survival” mode in which it begins using up stores of sugar and fat and also breaks down old cells.
“With a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system,” Longo said.
But fasting shouldn’t be something done often and deserves further research, states the report.
Fascinating information … as well as a some reasonable explanation for the quick weight loss and energizing effects of a short fast. We’re pretty sure that most who undertake the endeavor never assumed that the immune system could be positively affected by what they probably considered a quick weight loss effort. We’ll definitely be looking for more research into these surprising benefits of fasting.