There have been long debates associated with the potential and hazards of fasting. The supporters of fasting point to the many benefits that they claim fasting provides to the immune system. The benefits may include weight loss, lowering triglyceride levels in the body, normalizing insulin sensitivity, along with slowing the signs of aging. There is a number of various fasting plans ranging from irregular fasting that lasts on an average of 14 to 18 hours; to longer-term plans that refrains the solid foods for 2 to 3 days. Each of them is said to carry their own challenges and benefits, offerings choices for everyone.
Many medical professionals and nutritionists argue that fasting is nothing but an unstoppable trend along with carrying a number of health risks associated with it that has to be considered. The major point of their debate is that they argue for the loss of nutrients during the time spent fasting as fasting limits not only the intake of unhealthy food but also the ones that our body require that includes the healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, and the lean proteins. Moreover, they always argue that fasting supports revive eating that results in overall weight gain as it is opposed to the sought after weight loss.
A new research out of the University of Southern California has presented a fascinating discovery that once again has led to the debate bringing to the forefront. The teams later gathered a group of participants and asked them in the initial stages to fast for 2-4 days on a regular basis for over a period of 6-months. Keeping the participants under observation they noticed some incredible changes. Along with this, the participants have noticed a decrease in the production of the enzyme PKA, that’ a hormone that is found responsible for increasing the risk of cancer and tumor growth. In addition, the immune system of the participants appeared to get a complete overhaul.
Professor Valter Longo, Ph.D., stated that the researcher of the study expressed his surprise with the findings related to the study- “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So, we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”
The findings could be helpful in providing considerable promise for the ones who are susceptible to the disease. or are currently getting chemotherapy, or simply for the aging population. The research’s output showed that the act of fasting force the body to flip its functioning. This later was found responsible for signaling it to begin a “stem-cell based regeneration of the hematopoietic system.” This forced the body to utilize its stores of glucose, fat, and ketones; and also led to the breakdown of a large number of white blood cells. This loss of white blood cells declines the body, in turn to, regenerate the immune system cells.
Later, Professor Longo stated that- “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 would mean that according to the study’s findings the process of fasting for more than 72 hours of a period of time that followed with re-feeding with a much healthier and a nutritionally focused diet, that can be provided to those that are struggling with a new immune system.
On the other hand, the medical associated possible benefits would definitely be worth further the review, whereas, the medical professionals warn that further study is still required before it could be seen as a definitive medical option.