Protection against immune system damage is especially important for the people who are treated by chemotherapy. It’s well-known fact that the chemotherapy attacks the immune system and regeneration of the cells. For that reason, the big challenge for the science is to find the way how to protect the immunity of the people who suffer from cancer.
According to the study published in Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.
The positive results are seen in both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial involving patients receiving chemotherapy. After long fasting, the counts of the white blood cells significantly lowered.
This study has major implications for healthier aging because when the people get older the immune system declines, and the people are more vulnerability to diseases. The periods of fasting for two to four days at a time over the course of six months will help in killing older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones. This research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and the people who have a wide range of immune system deficiencies, especially those with the autoimmunity disorders.
The author Valter Longo stated that it was not possible to predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system. Longo explains that the starving stimulate the system to save energy. Saving energy is achieved by recycling a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. The experiment showed, in both their human work and animal work, that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting.
After the re-feeding, the blood cells come back. This was a trigger for them to continue with investigating the impact of fasting on this issue.
According to Longo prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, ketones, and fat, however, it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.
Each cycle of fasting induces changes that trigger the reduction of white blood cells. Additionally they regenerate the new immune system cells. In fact, prolonged fasting reduced the enzyme PKA, which extend longevity in simple organisms. The PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into a regenerative mode. This enzyme allows the stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system. If the people with a heavily damaged system by chemotherapy or aging start fasting cycles, they can generate, literally, a new immune system.
Longo and others have also linked aging and the levels of IGF-1 (a growth factor hormone), which is also lowered with prolonged fasting. Extending Longo’s influential past research a small group of patients fasted for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.
According to Longo, these effects are applicable not just to the immune system, but to many different systems and organs. The Longo’s lab is in the process of conducting further research on controlled dietary interventions and stem cell regeneration.
More Research via Collective Evolution
- Fasting helps protect against brain disease
The research showed that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The fasting according to this research should be not more than intake to 500 calories a day for two days out of the seven. It actually can show clear beneficial effects on the brain.
- Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes
Experiencing a day without food reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The results of the studies show that fasting releases a significant surge in human growth hormone. This hormone associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Reducing fat is known to cut the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Some of the doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.
- Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells
According to the studies conducted to investigate the link between the aging and cancer, the patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. They show that fasting improves survival, limit the spread of tumors and slow tumor growth. Additionally, the National Institute on Aging has studied one type of breast cancer in detail. It helped to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer.
The fasting helps to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing the cancer cells. These steps led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules, breaking down the cancer cells and causing their destruction.
Wu, S. (2014, June 5). Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system. Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/