As we enter another cold and flu season, proper immune function is a hot topic. The debate over the safety, and effectiveness of vaccines continues.
See my post: “4 Reason To Avoid The Flu Shot” I would like my readers to be aware of the amazing benefits, intermittent fasting has on immune function.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false” alt=”Intermittent fasting for Immune function”]Image from Dollar Photo Club Created in Canva[/featured-image] [vimeo id=”146464014″]
There’s an interesting paradox when it comes to Intermittent fasting for improved immune. It’s interesting because, during a fast, immune cell (leucocyte) count goes down, pointing to weakened immune.
However, after the fast is over, immune cells come on strong. In fact, the entire immune system is rejuvenated. (1) These findings tell us to be smart about fasting, and not overdo activity and/or exposure during a fast. However, we can expect our immune systems to be far better, as a result.
Animal studies are offering some really encouraging news regarding, intermittent fasting, and enhanced immune function. In one study, published in the Journal Cancer Investigation, 48 mice were inoculated with high-dose tumor cells. Half of the mice were allowed to eat as they pleased, (ad-libitum) every day.The other half were allowed to eat freely, every other day, while fasting on alternate days.
After 10 days, 12 of the 24 fasted mice were alive. Only, 3 of the 24, daily-fed mice were alive. (2)
An interesting side note from this study, is that the mice that fasted every other day, increased their food intake on the days they were allowed to eat. This put their total weekly food intake on par with the mice that were allowed to eat every day.
Interestingly, the fasted mice lost on average 2.3% of their body weight during the study, and the mice that fed daily, gained 6-8% of their body weight. So much for counting calories to loose weight.See my post on Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss.
In a human observation, 50 healthy, men and women were observed during intermittent fasting lasting one month. Many favorable physiological changes took place.
Inflammation went down, cancer risk was reduced, blood pressure went down, and everyone lost weight. (3)
What’s of interest for our purposes here, is that their tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production went up significantly. What does this mean? Their bodies produced a protein that is capable of killing cancer cells. This adds weight to the idea that intermittent fasting is really good for immune function.
Chemotherapy may save lives, but normally, there’s extensive collateral damage to the immune system. In one study, involving 10 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, intermittent fasting was shown to protect normal cells, against the assault of the chemo drugs. Cancer cells on the other hand, derived no such benefit, or protection. (4)
In other words, during chemotherapy, intermittent fasting protects normal cells, and leaves cancerous, tumor cells vulnerable to the attack from chemotherapy drugs.
Not only that, in this study, chemo side effects were dramatically reduced. Here’s what the researchers had to say: “fasting in combination with chemotherapy is feasible, safe, and has the potential to ameliorate side effects caused by chemotherapies.” (4)
In a separate animal study, published in the Journal Science Translation Medicine, intermittent fasting has again, been shown to protect normal, healthy cells from chemotherapy and expose cancer cells to the drug.
In fact, this study showed intermittent fasting to be just as effective as chemotherapy, at slowing tumor growth. (5) Researchers involved with this study were so encouraged, they had this to say: “These studies suggest that multiple cycles of fasting promote differential stress sensitization in a wide range of tumors and could potentially replace or augment the efficacy of certain chemotherapy drugs in the treatment of various cancers.”
Intermittent fasting causes the body to go through some remarkable changes. During a fast, the body is trying to conserve energy.
Old, inefficient immune cells, consume more energy than younger, more efficient ones. As a result, during a fast, the body will get rid of old immune cells, and create new, healthier, stronger, more efficient ones.
Stem cells in the blood can turn into any cell the body needs. What fasting does, is switch on, certain aspects of our genetic code. This gives stem cells the go-ahead, to turn into new immune cells. This has the effect of turbo-charging your immune system.
Researcher Valter Longo likens this effect to an airplane unloading some cargo. (6)
Referring to this immune rebuilding process, Longo says: “We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration.” And, once again this study agreed with the others, that intermittent fasting protects normal cells from chemo and exposed cancerous cells, and tumors to the drugs.
Longo’s research has profound implications for cancer treatment, and age induced, disease in general. If intermittent fasting can have such a significant effect on the immune systems devastated by chemotherapy, imagine what it could do of the average person.
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