Can Fasting Fight the Flu or Common Cold?

Mice that were force-fed were less likely to survive compared to mice allowed to eat according to appetite ( 9 ). “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting,” he explains. When doctors checked back in on A.

  • This puts immense pressure not only on the digestive system, but on the entire body.
  • When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy.

That study also assessed both human and mice immune cells. It’s found 87 times in the Bible. This is the ideal mode for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels. The immune system modulation that intermittent fasting provides may also be helpful if you have moderate to severe allergies (4). When the mice in these studies began fasting, Belkaid says, T and B cells vanished from the bloodstream and organ tissues. You may have heard the saying — "feed a cold, starve a fever. "This makes sense when you think about it.

Also, it’s possible that the effects of fasting is not limited to the immune system. It’s a lofty claim and it hasn’t been studied carefully enough in humans yet, but a 2020 study in Cell Metabolism found that alternate day fasting, specifically, did improve some of the more common markers of ageing — like cardio health and fat-to-lean ratio — in a small sample of healthy, non-obese people. Two of the three studies looked at the T and B cells. Scientists are starting to establish the benefits of fasting to the immune system. Three studies have examined the effects of fasting diets on the immune system, and found lengths and types of fasting had different, and sometimes opposite, effects. For example, during a daily fast you would designate an 8-hour “eating window,” where you would only eat between the hours of 12pm-8pm.

The effect on our immune system of this prolonged fasting seems to be to force a renewal of some of our immune cells, potentially removing defective cells that are contributing to the illness and replacing them with fully functional cells as the food deprived body goes into a kind of 'self protective' mode.

Fasting Has So Many Health Benefits, They’re Hard To Count

A study published in Nutrients 2020 compared the effects of eating a high fat, high sugar diet (the Standard American Diet-SAD) to a 12-16-hour intermittent fasting diet. This means that various molecules in your cells, including the “packaging” proteins called histones that wrap your DNA up nicely within the core of your cells, are “decorated” with acetyl groups on their lysine (amino acid) residues. Fasting has one more trick up its sleeve when it comes to supercharging the immune system. They instead huddle into the nutrient-rich marrow and become stronger and healthier. The lack of appetite often accompanying an infection is a way to encourage your body to remove infected cells through a process known as cell apoptosis ( 7 ). Autoimmune problems and digestive issues are telltale signs of gut imbalance. A new study suggests that intermittent fasting, while often producing positive results, can harm metabolic health and cause Metabolic Syndrome. Further, most intermittent fasting plans recommend not eating between 16 to 24 hours — a much shorter period of time than the four-day fast in Longo's study.

Scientists at the University of Southern California found that fasting could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy, or people with auto-immune disorders. Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers and multiple sclerosis! Prolonged fasting also protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial in which a small group of patients fasted for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy, extending Longo's influential past research: Oligodendrocyte precursor cells regenerated and remyelinated axons, and the clinical severity of the autoimmune disorder declined. You are also more likely to reduce your immune system response during a fast, which can be beneficial for autoimmune diseases. The three new studies are published in the journal Cell. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that intermittent fasting for several consecutive days without calorie restriction in humans would induce an anticarcinogenic proteome and the key regulatory proteins of glucose and lipid metabolism.

Intermittent fasting is a style of eating where you limit your meals to a certain part of the day.


Nevertheless, she adds, “I still think that it can really help people out, and I think people who are able to stick to it really reap a lot of metabolic benefits. Bacterial composition of the gut/intestine (AKA the gut microbiome) — the health of gut and the rest of the body is determined by the amount and type of bacteria residing in the gut. Incredibly, intermittent fasting has a profound effect on your gut barrier function. While diets and fasting have traditionally been criticized by the medical profession as unhealthy and ultimately counterproductive, these research results suggest starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. In fact, yogis and sages have done this through the ages as we all know.

This happens whether the food is raw or cooked as nothing is truly sterile. While this can be done without eating food, it isn’t considered the safest option. The body has a certain amount of available energy that it diverts into important function such as digestion, physical movement (kinetics), immunity, cognition, etc. Texting a friend is quick and easy, “Hey, I’m fasting. There is not yet any peer-reviewed research on Hashimoto’s and intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting and Hashimoto’s

Fasting can also help reduce the severity of a flare for those with autoimmune diseases. But making that same high-fat diet—and the same number of calories—accessible to the animals for only eight hours per day during their normal wake cycles protected the mice from the development of a host of metabolic diseases. Fasting can throw your hormones out of balance and mess with your menstrual cycle and sleep patterns, resulting in amenorrhea and insomnia.

Ancient Fasting Techniques

Studies show that intermittent fasting, which has been practiced for thousands of years, has the potential to prevent and reverse chronic illnesses such as obesity, hypertension, and asthma. Abstaining from eating limits the supply of nutrients, such as iron and zinc, that the infecting agent needs to grow and spread ( 6 ). It is speculated that this method is superior to the two-day fast, allowing the body to enter ketosis and begin a true cleanse. If you have any serious health conditions, and you’re seriously thinking of trying this, you should consult your doctor first. Fasting is defined as the abstinence from foods, drinks or both for a period of time. 9 “One in five of the mice went to back to no symptoms at all.

In a well-fed state, the individual cell in your body is in “growth” mode. In a 2020 PNAS study, he and colleagues found that when they withheld food from mice for 24 hours, 90 percent of the genes expressed in a cyclical, circadian clock–driven fashion by liver cells ceased to oscillate. But there are several studies that show reductions in inflammatory markers. This improves your ability to burn stored fat, which amps up your metabolism. Doing this every day, or 5 days per week, means you are adopting an intermittent fasting schedule. The researchers revealed that fasting for 2–4 days may protect stem cells against the negative effects of chemotherapy on the immune system. Our bodies have naturally adapted to operate optimally while fasting, and too much food can cause our systems to slow down and become sluggish and inflamed.

  • However, the study that is being reported on only involved mice, not humans.
  • If you are looking for ways to manage your weight, decrease inflammation and pain, lower your blood pressure, lower your total cholesterol, decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes along with having more energy and longevity then intermittent fasting could be for you.
  • If you want to get started with IF, the best method is the one you can maintain that suits your lifestyle.

10 Health benefits of intermittent fasting diets

These cells help create immunity against past infections and identify and destroy pathogens. The overall consensus is that for healthy people, intermittent fasting is relatively safe and about as effective as an extremely low-carb diet in terms of encouraging weight loss. Longo likens the effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo. (22, 2020) showing that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections. It all starts with a process called autophagy.

While your cells turn on cellular growth and proliferation genes when you aren’t fasting, they also turn other genes off. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles -- periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months -- kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders. For years, doctors noticed that when patients with certain diseases went without eating for a day or so, their condition sometimes improved. “So, why do we eat three times a day? On the other hand, a number of studies suggest that eating certain foods may improve cold and flu symptoms.


The science here is still emerging, but researchers have been studying the effects of food intake on sleep for years. Fasting that involves longer periods of food deprivation can cause changes to the immune system and the hematopoietic stem cells that support it. He published a fascinating paper in the Journal of Cell Biology based on work he did on yeast cells. She added that more clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician. 8 percent reduction in weight and an 11 percent reduction in waist size. Fasting is not recommended for people with chronic health issues, especially anyone with diabetes or gout. ’’ The ability to fast is a response to periods when our ancestors ate more than they needed and built up fat reserves and surplus nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, in summer and autumn. Thus, they did not restrict enough calories to promote weight loss.

There are other benefits to fasting that can include improving cardiovascular, brain and gut health. “Sealing the leaks” in your gut lining is an important step in addressing the root cause of autoimmune disease and chronic illness. Fasting also activates stem cells of the immune system to renew and repair themselves.

Is this the best thing for us? The continual need to digest food diverts energy away from these other factors while fasting conserves energy for use with these other systems. On restricted diets, the rodents had fewer memory T cells in lymphoid tissue - where they normally are - and more T cells in bone marrow, which generates blood cells. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles — periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months — kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders. People around the world have known intuitively for centuries that some sporadic intermittent fasting is good for the body. Alternative medical doctors, who are trained in both eastern and western medicine might be able to understand your specific needs so they can prescribe the type of fast to give you the benefits you’re seeking, while also preventing you from hurting yourself. Your period of eating for those fasts would be 8 or 6 hours respectively. Foods to boost the immune system, for instance, the bone broth claim has been fueled by a study published in 2020 that showed eating chicken soup seemed to reduce symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. A large body of evidence now supports the benefits of fasting, though the most notable data has been recorded in studies with animals.

Links To The Science

“[H]is fast was continued into what is presently the longest recorded fast (Guinness Book of Records, 1971),” the clinicians wrote in a 1973 case report, claiming A. Click 'Learn More' to learn and customise how Verizon Media and our partners collect and use data. By comparing blood drawn in an “eating state” from day 1 to a “fasting state” on day 2, Jordan et al. Body systems work better when synchronized with one another; midnight snacking when our body usually sleeps throws our natural repair system out of sync. The body uses more resources to destroy the invader and so your body with auto. But fasting diets, which force you to establish clear eating windows, eliminate this absent-minded noshing and can help you take in fewer overall calories.

Fasting for weight loss? It asks the human body to be much more efficient and self-protective than it is accustomed to being in modern times. Please read the Privacy Policy carefully before you start to use DrJockers.

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Experts in the News: You might even get an upset stomach and food will look terrible for you to eat. There are a few different ways of fasting, and all can give you the potential benefits of a fast.

There are several popular diet patterns today, including Keto, Paleo, Gluten Free, Low Carb, High Protein, Whole 30, and Mediterranean. Some claim that avoiding food during an infection helps your body heal. Currently in vogue is intermittent fasting, which involves alternating intervals of extreme calorie reduction with periods of normal eating. Is your diet in need of a reboot before the holidays? An RDN can create a weight loss program based on your unique health and nutrition needs and goals. “That scared us, because we thought maybe when you diet like this, if you have an infection, this monocyte won’t be able to react to it,” Merad said. In an editorial response to these three studies, researchers Roberta Buono and Valter Longo suggest the differing results demand more precise future research and clarity over different fasting strategy definitions.

Two major cytokines Interleukin-6 and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha promote an inflammatory response in the body. To be perfectly clear, cold and flu infections are initially caused by viruses, specifically the rhinovirus and influenza virus. He is also a Senior Investigator of the Translational Gerontology Branch at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

12 and work your way up to 16: