Fasting to strengthen immune system; How it works?

Do's and Don'ts of Fasting

Fasting to strengthen immune system

Yesterday early morning I was greeted by a series of tweets which mentioned that researchers have concluded that 24 hours of fasting can dramatically improve stem cells and their ability to regenerate. This research was conducted in both aged and young mice. As per the research conducted on mice, the fasting mice’s, cells began to break down fatty acids instead of glucose, which stimulated the stem cells to become extra regenerative.

Isn’t it strange that what the researchers are realizing today, are already well established facts of our country Bharat. We Indians always believed and practised fasting for religious reasons but sages and saints who initiated the practices of fasting weekly and monthly must already be knowing the benefits. Yes, I am talking about Ekadashi Vrat and various weekly fasts that most of us indians follow.

intermittent fasting during COVID-19 lockdown

Fasting to strengthen immune system

How Fasting Works

The concept of fasting has been criticised by many but the latest research shows that it can be actually helpful in production of the white blood cells in the body which are responsible for fighting against the diseases.

  • Scientists have said that it can be helpful for the people with damaged immune systems, like the cancer patients after chemotherapy.
  • The elderly can also be benefitted by the same as their immune systems become weak due to the age factor. Fasting can result in regeneration of the immune system. According to the studies, fasting ‘flips a regenerative switch’ and the body as a result creates brand new white blood cells strengthening the immune system.

intermittent fasting benefits

  • Another benefit of fasting is that the body can get rid of the old and inefficient parts. As prolonged fasting focuses on the breakdown of glucose but it also converts a significant portion of white blood cells. Each cycle of fasting leads to depletion and then the regeneration of white blood cells.
  • Scientists have said that prolonged fasting also reduces the enzyme PKA which is related to ageing and a hormone that increases the risk of cancer. According to Dr. Longo, when the body starves, the system works on saving energy and in the process it recycles the immune cells that are damaged. It was noticed in the research that the both in the human and animal work is that with prolonged fasting goes down the white blood cell count.
  • Fasting for 72 long hours has also helped the patients to work against the toxic impacts of chemotherapy. While chemotherapy is life saving but on the same part it causes damage to the immune system. Some results show that fasting can be helpful to reduce the effects of the chemotherapy on the body. Also it is said that any such step should be taken under careful recommendation of the physician.
  • The possible effects of fasting are being studied in relation to all the body systems and organs not just the immune system to have a better clarity in this regard.

Our Take

Some interesting data as given by researchers, says that fasting reduces the number and size of cells and then refeeding after 72 hours saw a rebound. So it can be said that though there are no reports of fasting being harmful but the positive impacts are many.

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