The Benefits of Fasting: Autophagy - Immune system regeneration. During starvation, cells break down old and damaged proteins and other cell components to use them for energy. This process is known as autophagy. During autophagy, cells destroy viruses and bacteria and get rid of damaged structures. It’s a process that is critical for cell health, renewal and survival.Go to comment (1)
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Autophagy - Immune System Regeneration
The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016 for his research on how our cells recycle and renew their content, this process is called autophagy. Fasting activates autophagy which helps to slow down the aging process and has a positive impact on cell regeneration.
What is Autophagy?
During starvation, cells break down old and damaged proteins and other cell components to use them for energy. This process is known as autophagy. During autophagy, cells destroy viruses and bacteria and get rid of damaged structures. It’s a process that is critical for cell health, renewal and survival.
Why is Autophagy so Beneficial?
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the haematopoietic system.” – Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Longevity Institute.
The haematopoietic system is the system of organs and tissues, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes, involved in the production of cellular blood production systems.
“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,” says Longo. “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?”
Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. Their findings indicate:
- Fasting could help the elderly whose immune system can weaken as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.
- During the fasting the body gets rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts.
- If you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.
This should be seen as hugely important part of our year, to ensure that we are running in prime condition and our bodies are prepared as they can be for anything that our immune system needs to defend against.
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Potential Risks Associated with Fasting
Although there is a huge portion of the population who can afford to lose weight, there are some humans who may not be in a physical state to afford to lose weight. These people should understand that if you think you cannot afford to lose weight but are wanting the immune system regeneration benefits, look at doing a short fast or a fasting mimicking diet which can induce autophagy.
Through-out the fast water can be your best friend, however it can also become a reminder of how long you have gone without food. Although you should be finding water a method of easing any thoughts of hunger, some people can forget to keep up the water. It is important to keep up the water and ensure your body has an easy job of flushing out the system - detoxing the organs and digestive system.
Read Fast Series Part 4: 'Eight Steps to a Successful Water Fast' by clicking here.