A new study reveals that prolonged fasting protects against chemotherapy toxic effects, and it triggers regeneration of new immune cells clearing out the damaged, old ones. These findings can benefit people who receive chemotherapy treatment or the elderly who have weak immune systems, due to aging, and thus are more susceptible to disease.
The study shows that a natural intervention could trigger stem cell regeneration of a system or an organ. Prolonged fasting transfers the stem cells of the immune system from being dormant to the active state of self- renewal.
Furthermore, it switches the signaling pathways of hematopoietic stem cells, which generate immune and blood systems. . According to the scientists, when we stop eating, our bodies use up the stored fat, ketones and glucose, and also recycle the damaged and worn out immune systems. It is noticed that during prolonged fasting, the white blood cell count goes down and when we re- feed, it comes back.
In mice experiment, prolonged fasting of 2- 4 days without food for a period of 6 months replenished the damaged immune cells with new ones. Prolonged fasting reduces PKA, which is the main key triggering stem cells regeneration, as it gives the OK for the stem cells to start proliferating and rebuilding the entire system.
Another important effect of prolonged fasting is the drop in IGF- 1, which is linked to cancer, tumor progression and aging. Therefore, the body through the fasting cycles can rid itself of the inefficient, old or damaged cells and literally have a new immune system.
Despite the importance of chemotherapy for cancer patients, it damages significantly the immune system; that is why the new findings about fasting are important to minimize its harm and protect the patients from its toxic effects. Meanwhile, people who would like to try prolonged fasting should do it under medical supervision.