Is Fasting Good For You?
Fasting has been discussed and disagreed on for centuries. Supporters point out the benefits fasting provides, such as weight loss, helping insulin sensitivity, lower triglyceride levels and slower aging signs. Many different ‘types’ of fasting have been created and discussed, from intermittent fasting (14 to 18 hours) to fasting for for 2 to 3 days or more. Various benefits and challenges come with each option.
Some nutritionists and medical professionals say fasting is an unsupported trend with a number of health risks attached to it, such as a loss of nutrients while you are fasting and rebound eating, leading to weight gain rather than loss.
The University of Southern California has presented fascinating new research on the topic.
A group of participants were asked to fast for 2-4 days regularly for 6-months. During this time they saw a decrease in enzyme PKA production. This is a hormone associated with increased cancer and tumor risks. More interestingly, the participants immune systems appeared to go through a total overhaul.
According to to the research, fasting triggers a switch body that signals it to regenerate the hematopoietic system. It forces the body to use up various stores of fat, glucose, and ketones, and to to break down a large amounts of white blood cells. This triggers the regeneration of new immune system cells.
According to Professor Longo, “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.”
This means, if you are struggling with a weak immune system, fasting may be able, in a way, to give you a new one!
According to the study’s co-author Tanya Dorff, MD though, more study and research is needed. She is assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and said- “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.”