Studies have shown that fasting brings the body a variety of health benefits. Whether fasting for a period of two to four days, or engaging in intermittent fasting, both have been shown to boost immune function as well as brain functioning.
In a study of participants who fasted for a period of two to four days, white blood cells were regenerated. This is particularly important for those undergoing chemotherapy, since chemotherapy destroys the good cells along with the cancer cells. In addition, fasting has also shown benefits in brain functioning, such as improved memory.
Fasting for long periods of time not only breaks down white blood cells, but also reduces the growth factor hormone IGF-1, which has been linked to cancer. In fasting, the body is forced to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones. The white blood cells are then regenerated, helping to boost the immune system with brand new cells.
“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,” Longo said.
Intermittent fasting, which is fasting for 10-16 hours, or fasting on alternate or back to back days, forces the body to burn fat for energy, and ketones are released into the blood. The levels of adiponectin, which is a a collagen like protein, increase in response to fasting. Adiponectin has been shown to play a role in glucose control and fat metabolism. Higher levels of this protein decrease inflammation and the risk of heart disease while lower levels are linked with obesity, insulin resistance and other health issues.
Rats maintained on an alternate day food deprivation intermittent fasting (IF) diet exhibit decreased body weight, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced resting heart rate and blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular adaptation to stress.
It is important to note that intermittent fasting can affect hormones and contribute to infertility, so those trying to get pregnant should not partake in intermittent fasting. Have you tried intermittent fasting or fasting? What was your experience?
2 Collier, Roger. Intermittant fasting: The science of going without.
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4 Wan, R. Camanola, S. Mattson MP. Intermittent food deprivation improves cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to stress in rats.
5 Manju Chandran, MD, Susan A. Phillips, MD, Theodore Ciaraldi, PHD, Robert R. Henry, MD. Adiponectin: More Than Just Another Fat Cell Hormone?
6 Kumar, Sushil and Kaur, Gurcharan. Intermittent Fasting Dietary Restriction Regimen Negatively Influences Reproduction in Young Rats: A Study of Hypothalamo-Hypophysial-Gonadal Axis.