Fasting Twice a Year Can Reboot Your Immune System

study says fasting can regenerate a healthy immune system with new stem cells
Would you be willing to go without food for a few days to keep your immune system in tip-top shape? That is exactly what may happen if you’re willing to fast twice a year according to a new University of Southern California study featured in the June 5 edition of Cell Stem Cell. The study is the first to find that someone, through natural intervention by the person, can help trigger stem cells to regenerate. In other words, it appears fasting can help your immune system recycle itself to become stronger than it had been before you began to fast.

The fasting works in the following way. By not eating for two to four days in a row, the body significantly lowers the number of white blood cells. Those cells that die off tend to be those which are weak or have damage. When a person begins to eat again, new stem cells are created which end up being much healthier than the ones that died off. In other words, by fasting, a person can regenerate a completely new and healthy immune system.

The study could have huge implications for a variety of groups, especially in the area of healthier aging. As people get older, their immune system declines, which can lead to a bigger chance of getting a variety of diseases. If fasting can help regenerate a person’s immune system, their body may be able to better fight these diseases than they could before, without the need of any prescription drugs. As the authors note, “If you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

And added benefit is that a healthier immune system could end up saving people a lot of money. Being able to fight off diseases without the help of pharmaceuticals can save a small fortune. Simply being in better health can save money in a large number of ways such as being more productive, having fewer sick days and having more energy. For those who think this would be a good idea for them and their health, don’t just jump right into it. Here are a few things you need to consider before you begin a fast:

Tell Your Doctor

Before you do anything, consult your doctor to get their opinion. Since they will best know your health issues, you want to make sure doing a fast will actually be a benefit, and not detrimental to your health. There may be reason you should not do this which you may not have considered. This is especially true if you are taking medication which might be affected by you not consuming food or calories.

Stay Hydrated

Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, be sure that you drink plenty of water during the fast. Especially during the summer, the last thing you want to do is get dehydrated while fasting. Consult your doctor on the amount of water you should be drinking during the fast, and make sure you consume the recommended amount.

Don’t Strenuously Exercise

Trying to fast and keep your regular routine will be a challenge in itself when you aren’t able to take your normal food and coffee breaks throughout the day, but it will make the entire process even worse if you try to exercise as well. When you make the commitment to fast, give your body the best chance to complete it with the least amount of discomfort. Strenuously exercising while fasting will make the other hours all that more difficult as your body craves food even more.

Reduce Stress

Try to make the time you attempt the fast as stress-free as possible. Trying to not eat while you have major stresses will make fasting miserable, and make it much more likely you fail to succeed. Try to schedule the fast during a time when you have plenty of time to use the way you want, and you don’t have a huge number of commitments which have to be met.

Make Sure You’re Healthy

You want to make sure that you’re in the best health possible when doing this. That is, you don’t want to attempt this when you have the flu or some other type of illness. Again, make sure to consult your doctor and review your health before attempting to fast for 48 – 96 hours.

It’s Not a Diet

Be sure to remember why you’re doing this. You’re fasting to regenerate your stem cells and rebuild your immune system, not to lose weight. You should not care one bit about any weight you lose or don’t lose. It’s also important to note that this should only be done twice a year, not on a monthly basis. Doing it more often than twice-a-year may have a number of negative effects which outweigh any benefit you get from the immune system regeneration.

(Photo courtesy of Cordey)

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18 Responses to Fasting Twice a Year Can Reboot Your Immune System

  1. bachcole says:

    What if you don’t have a doctor because you figured out that they are clueless when it comes to alternative healing and that warning is merely for legal reasons?

    This study was narrowly focused. The immune system is not everything, and moderate fasting helps everything.

  2. Gnarlodious says:

    You said “while blood cells” but you meant white.

  3. Luciano says:

    I like the article very much and would like to do it and yes seeing the doctor is a must for me!

  4. davidstein says:

    The more you eat, the more damage you do to your body due to the toxic by-products from digested foods. It makes sense that your body needs time to rest, heal, and repair itself. Avoid processed foods, and stay on a plant-based diet. Cancer cells feed on sugar and animal protein.

    Most of us take more care of our vehicles than we do our own bodies. After all, do we replace gasoline in our vehicles with junk? Do we put garbage into our gas tanks? No.

    Like Jack LaLanne said: “If man made it, don’t eat it.”

  5. Em Dee says:

    You mean “legal reasons” like if you are diabetic and might go into insulin shock and die.

  6. jmv says:

    White blood cells have a lifetime of only 30 days, apparently?

  7. Nordin says:

    what are the terms of this fasting? 24 hours a day? no food, no water? how does this differ from the practice of muslims ( 1 billion of world population) wherein they don’t eat or drink from dusk to dawn 30 days a year, for life?

  8. Beanfart says:

    Coming off of a fast is important too… Don’t jump into a big mac & fries!!! Some fruit the first day is wonderful, especially watermelon! Then the next day some light salad, veggies, cooked whole grains…

  9. Carl says:

    I also find that doctors are clueless about star wars fan fiction.

  10. Fatemeh says:

    I have tried it for more than 20 years and I have benefited a lot not only physiological but also moral.

  11. Don_in_Odessa says:

    It is a little known secret known only to those who know, that Muslims are very, very old. Even the young ones are very, very old.

    Seriously though, all things in moderation. Fast occasionally to eliminate as many poisons in your body as possible. Regenerating stem cells in mice? I haven’t a clue what that has to do with me.

  12. Malcolm says:

    Just as important too is what’s eaten before the fast begins, again preferably and totally fruit. One can get very ill while carrying putrefying dead animal parts in one’s intestines for 4 days or more. I fast 7 days on water only EVERY MONTH and have been doing so for nearly 3 years with great benefits.

  13. bachcole says:

    And you equate knowledge of Star Wars fan fiction with people taking responsibility for their own health and try to live more healthfully? So you are just going to sit around waiting for doctors to save your sorry and pathetic ass.

  14. Aldo says:

    This is a bit misleading. The study shows that fasting lowers white blood cells in both human and mice, but only mice showed immune system regeneration.

    There are also countless studies that show that fasting is actually not good for you, especially if you’re not eating a healthy diet, which most of us don’t.

    Instead of starving ourselves for a few days, it is better to just change our diet and eat healthier. Healthy eating will have a much greater effect in our immune system and overall health.

  15. Trace says:

    Does anyone know if this could help the immune syst of someone with chronic fatigue?

  16. This research is preliminary, so what exactly it will and won’t help is still unknown. However, the research is indicating that it could help with a variety of issues. My advice would be to talk to your doctor about it and if your doctor is OK with it, give it a try to see if it helps.

  17. AustIn says:

    I have been water fasting twice a year for the past two years. I used to only do it once a year. My goal has always been to reach true hunger stage, but I have yet to reach that point. 21 days has been my longest water fast, and 16 days has been my average.

    I love it.

    I have been using watermelon to break my fasts, but I am going to try dragon fruit this time, as I don’t much like the taste of watermelon. As has been stated, going slow is so important when breaking your fast.

    I continue to work during my water fasts, but I eliminate all exercise and any unnecessary physical activity.

    My energylevel/alertness is surprisingly high throughout my fasts, and I find that I don’t need as much sleep.

    Thank you for the write up.

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