Research from the University of Southern California has found that a three-day fast can regenerate the entire human immune system!
This remarkable and major breakthrough points to a straightforward and low-cost way to improve health and well-being. Fasting – abstaining from all or some foods or drinks for a set period of time – is a time-honored practice dating back to ancient civilizations.
Most fasts last from one to three days. Western nutritionists fear that depriving the body of nourishment (starving) is unhealthy. The news that going 72 hours without eating can replenish the whole immune system suggests that both fasting and starving stimulate the production of new infection-fighting white blood cells.
The elderly and people with damaged immune systems (like cancer patients on chemotherapy) have cause for hope if the solution is as simple and affordable as this.
Regardless of age, a weakened immune system reduces the body’s natural ability to ward off common diseases like colds and flu. Older folks are especially vulnerable because aging causes the immune system to degenerate.
Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences at the University of California Valter Longo conducted the research study. He claims his findings prove that fasting produces new disease-fighting cells:
“It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire 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.”
Study participants fasted for two to four days regularly over a six-month time period. In addition to the production of new white blood cells, fasting also lowered the presence of an enzyme called PKA – a hormone linked with the development of tumors and cancer.
Fasting has become trendy lately. Most people deprive themselves of food and non-water drinks in order to lose weight or improve brain function.
Fasting improves how the body regulates blood sugar which could help diabetics and those at risk. Intermittent fasting involves limiting food intake into a single four to eight hour period every day. A study on diabetes concluded that the ten test subjects who fasted intermittently – they ate nothing until the middle of the afternoon – had significantly decreased blood sugar levels.
Another type of intermittent fasting calls for fasting every other day but eating whatever you want on the non-fasting days. The most common variation of this technique is to consume no more than 500 calories on fasting days. That isn’t much: a medium-size apple has about 100 calories.
Along with weight loss, intermittent fasting lowers the negative side effects of obesity, including the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
On fasting days, the diet allows drinking as many calorie-free beverages (water, unsweetened coffee and tea) as desired. Krista Varady has published a book called “The Every-Other-Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off” which details “this revolutionary approach to weight loss that is incredibly simple, easy, and effective.”
Other research has linked fasting to incredible health benefits.
• Reduces chronic inflammation
• Improves blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels
• Prevent neurodegenerative disorders
• Boost metabolism
• Increase growth hormone secretion, vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength
• Increase longevity
Despite the long list of advantages that fasting can give, some conditions suggest caution. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have diabetes or any other immune-system-related disease before taking up fasting.
Fasting can improve your overall health when it is paired with a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise and a nutritious diet. You might say it is the “fast track” to feeling better.