According to the University of Southern California, fasting may bring amazing benefits to the people who are fighting cancer.
The scientists from this university have conducted some research, published in the June 5th issue of Cell Stem Cell, and have revealed that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against damage of the immune system and induce regeneration of the immune system. They have concluded that the process of fasting triggers the shift of stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.
Scientists have also made some human clinical experiments with patients who were receiving chemotherapy. These patients have not eaten for long periods of time, and this considerably reduced the number of their white blood cells.
In experiments conducted on mice, the cycles of fasting flipped a regenerative switch, altering the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.
Valter Longo, the corresponding author has stated that they could not predict that these prolonged periods of fasting would have such an amazing effect in stimulating stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system. During the period of starving, the system tries to save energy and thus it recycles a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, particularly the ones that may be damaged. Both in the human and the animal experiments has been noticed that the number of white blood cells lowers with prolonged fasting. When food is consumed, the blood cells come back.
1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease.
The scientists from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have discovered some new proves that fasting for one or two days on a weekly basis can prevent the effects of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. They have also discovered that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days a week can impact the brain highly positively.
2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes
If you choose to spend a day without food on a regular basis you will lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. According to studies, fasting releases a considerable surge in human growth hormone, which, on the other hand, is linked to accelerating the metabolism and burning fat. By burning fat you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Some doctors have even begun to consider fasting as a method of treating certain diseases.
3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells
The scientific journal of aging has published a study that revealed that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy experienced fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All experiments made so far indicate that fasting improves the chances of survival, slows down the tumor growth, and limits the spread of tumors. The National Institute of Aging has also conducted a study on a type of breast cancer in details to further understand the impacts of fasting on cancer. Due to the fasting periods, the cancer cells tried to produce new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and multiplying. Because of these steps, which caused numerous other steps, damage was made to the molecules of the free radicals and the cancer cells broke down their own DNA and triggered their own destruction. This is kind of cellular suicide, as the cancer cells actually try to replace all of the things missing in the bloodstream necessary for them to survive after the period of fasting, but they cannot achieve that, so they try to create them, which leads to their own destruction.
Cancer Cells Starved Out
The USC’s Valter Longo has carried out a new research that indicated that the periodical adopting of a diet that imitates the effects of fasting may yield a wide range of health benefits.
In this new study, Longo and his co-workers proved that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that imitates fasting reduce the visceral belly fat and increase the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of old mice, including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.
Fasting for longer periods of time forces the body to use supplies of glucose, fat, and ketones, but it also breaks down a considerable part of white blood cells. Longo compares this effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo.
Longo has shown us once again the way fasting helps in starving out cancer cells while protecting the immune and the other cells from the toxicity of chemotherapy.
As he explains, this process represents a reprogramming the body to get into a mode of slower aging, and its rejuvenating through stem cell-based regeneration. This is not a classic diet, as it is not something you need to stay on.
The people who took part in this study returned to their regular eating habits for 25 days a month once they finished the treatment. Whether their eating habits were good or bad, they were not supposed to be changed after the treatment, and still, even in the cases of bad eating habits, some positive changes were noticed.
According to Longo, for the majority of normal people, the diet that imitates fasting can be done every three to six months, depending on the abdominal circumference and health status. People who are obese or people who have increased disease risk factors should follow a diet that imitates fasting as often as every two weeks. Of course, this diet should be recommended by their doctor. Longo’s group of scientists is conducting experiments of the effects of the diet that mimics fasting in a randomized clinical trial, which should be finished soon, with more than 70 people taking part in it.
If the results from this ongoing trials are as positive as the current ones are, the diet that mimics fasting will represent the first safe and efficient intervention to promote positive changes linked to longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a doctor. As Longo claims, they will soon see some FDA officers in order to pursue a few FDA claims for disease prevention and treatment.