Science Says Fasting May Keep You Young
A new study from University of Southern California reports findings that periodic fasting may be able to trigger “stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system.”
Fasting for periods of two to four days at a time over the course of six months was shown to lower white blood cell counts in both mice and humans, and, in the mice, it seemed to have “flipped a regenerative switch.”
The mice who fasted showed “stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system.”
The “hematopoietic system” is the system that is responsible for the generation of blood and for the immune system.
In other words, scientist demonstrated a connection between cycles of fasting that 1) protected against immune system damage by lowering the white count, and 2) appeared to boost regeneration in the immune system.
Ultimately, this could have significant effect on the quality of life as we age. It is the weakening of the immune system that makes us more susceptible to disease as we grow older. A method that regenerates the immune system may lead to healthier aging.
However, the study has even more immediate implications. It may indicate a more beneficial treatment of autoimmune disorders and, may offer immediate help for patients who must undergo chemotherapy or other treatments that weaken their immune systems.
Although the regeneration evidence was found in mice, the study also reports a test on humans:
The human trial showed that a small group of patients who fasted for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy experienced fewer harmful effects from the chemotherapy than patients who did not fast.
According to Science Daily, Dorff, one of the authors of the study said the trials are promising.
“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. More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”
Meanwhile, it seems that, for healthy individuals, an occasional day of fasting may not be a bad idea.