Intermittent fasting diets have become popular in recent years due to the discovery that taking in very little calories a couple of days a week is a brilliant way to lose weight.
But there has been found another amazing by-product of fasting – the process can completely regenerate your immune system.
The BBC’s Dr Michael Mosely popularized the 5:2 diet, in which you eat normally for 5 days and then fast for two.
His amazing weight loss was documented by an accompanying television program, in which he spoke to followers of long-term very low calorie diets (VLCD) and they appeared in wonderful health with an almost supernatural youthful glow.
They said they had never felt better before they started eating very small amounts of food over long periods of time, and new research has revealed why.
The University of Southern California have published a study stating that fasting regenerates the immune system in what they have described as a “remarkable and a major breakthrough”.
Many diseases such as cancer are set off by the weakening and breaking down of important cells, the ones which keep us healthy. Over time, they weaken and lifestyle factors can also have a negative impact.
For example a smoker has more chance of the cells in their lungs malfunctioning due to the damage that they have sustained throughout their life cycles.
But fasting was found to ‘regenerate’ cells into producing new white blood cells which fight off infection, meaning it could greatly benefit those suffering from immune disorders.
Professor Valter Longo, the lead researcher on the study said “It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system. And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”