The immune system is something that is highly misunderstood not just by everyday people but also by the many conventional doctors who we depend on for health advice. Many people resort to things like synthetic vitamins and medicines (ignoring better natural alternatives) to deal with colds and improve immunity, but the cycle of sickness always seems to continue.
For people with compromised immune systems, there are many natural options, and now researchers have discovered what could well be one of the best ways to reset and recharge your immune system; one that happens to be free and is believed to work even in the elderly as well: White blood cells (right) help immune response, and they can be recycled through fasting, the study showed.
Three Days to a Whole New Immune System
According to researchers at the University of Southern California, the act of fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in elderly people. They added that the discovery could be especially effective for people suffering from damaged immune systems, including chemotherapy patients, who were protected from the toxic impacts of the treatment during the fasting period.
Flipping a “Regenerative Switch”
The researchers said that fasting helps the body’s stem cells to begin producing new white blood cells (which help to fight off infection in the body).
“Fasting gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” Prof. Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California, told the UK’s The Telegraph.
He added that the body actually removed parts that were damaged, old or inefficient during the fasting process, creating “literally, a new immune system.”
According to Dr. Longo a person’s system recycles unneeded immune cells, especially damaged ones, in order to create energy while they are fasting.
Over the course of his study’s trials, participants were asked to regularly fast between 2-4 days over a 6 month period.
The study was released in June and Dr. Longo said that clinical trials must still be completed, but added that the research looks “very promising.”
Other Benefits of Fasting
While it’s not a good idea to fast for more than 2-3 days, or doing it too often, fasting does have its benefits.
1. Fasting Weakens Cancer
A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that five out of eight cancer types responded positively to fasting. In fact, fasting improved survival rates by slowing the growth and spread of tumors.
“In mice, the study found that fasting cycles without chemotherapy could slow the growth of breast cancer, melanoma, glioma, and human neuroblastoma. In several cases, the fasting cycles were as effective as chemotherapy,”confirms Science Daily (1).
In normal cells, fasting causes cellular activity to slow down dramatically. In cancer cells (particularly breast cancer cells), however, it causes the growth of new proteins to encourage the tumor to grow and divide. However, this survival mechanism dooms cancers cells, which create damaging free radical molecules that break down the cancerous cell’s DNA, effectively killing it.
“The cell is, in fact, committing cellular suicide. What we’re seeing is that the cancer cell tries to compensate for the lack of all these things missing in the blood after fasting. It may be trying to replace them, but it can’t,” senior author Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, explains.
2. Fasting Protects your Brain
Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore found that fasting regularly could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses. All it takes is fasting (eating less than 500 calories/day) for 1-2 days every week to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative illnesses. Studies show that this practice also increases longevity (2).
3. Fasting Reduces Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
In a study conducted in Utah, researchers found that Mormons who fasted for at least one day a month had much better arterial health than non-fasters.
“X-ray scans revealed narrowing of the arteries in around 75 per cent of those who didn’t fast. In contrast, clogged arteries affected 63 percent of those who said they often skipped meals.” (3)
The American College of Cardiology confirms that this practice also triggers a significant surge in human growth hormone, which speeds up metabolism and burns fat. These mechanisms also lower your risk of diabetes.
Although more research must be done, fasting may be used one day as a recommended medical treatment and immune system booster.