Fasting for just two days can kick-start the immune system-and could reverse auto-immune conditions such as arthritis, and help cancer patients on chemotherapy, a new study has discovered.
Going without food for two to four days kills older and damaged immune cells and generates new ones. At the beginning of a fast, white blood cells are killed off before a 'regenerative switch' is flipped on, which changes the signalling pathways of stem cells responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.
Fasting could be an important strategy for anyone with immune system deficiencies, including auto-immune disorders such as arthritis, and could also help cancer patients tolerate chemotherapy, say researchers from the University of Southern California's Davis School of Gerontology.
The researchers were astonished by the health benefits of fasting, which they measured in two-,three- and four-day fasts. They suspect that fasting could benefit all the body's organs and not just the immune system.
(Source: Cell Stem Cell, 2014; 14(6): 810)