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7 Jun, 2014

How fasting can regenerate the immune system — Sydney Morning Herald

By Sarah Knapton

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 criticised 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 that fasting ‘‘flips a regenerative switch’’ which prompts stem cells to create white blood cells, essentially restoring the immune system. ‘‘It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,’’ said Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the university.

via How fasting for a few days can regenerate the immune system.