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Here’s more irritating health news, from Canada’s National Post:
Fasting for three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable.”
Although fasting diets have been criticized by nutritionists, research suggests that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing more white blood cells, which fight off infection.
Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for those suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune systems become less effective.
The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” that prompts stem cells to create white blood cells, essentially restoring the immune system.
Even worse news:
Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of immune system cells.
In trials, volunteers were asked to fast regularly for between two and four days over a six-month period. Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic [formation of stem cells] system,” added Longo. “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.
My problem is, how on earth do you manage to fast for three days? Or, to put it a different way, How on earth do you manage to fast for three days and end up without killing everyone around you? Because I don’t know about you, but me, when I’m hungry, I get cranky. Very cranky.
That’s not to say I won’t try it. But when I do, I’ll give everyone lots of advance warning.