Intermittent Fasting and Immunity
Prolonged fasting is also known to enhance progrowth signaling and increase activity in pathways that enhance resistance to toxins. In particular, during treatment of cancer with chemotherapy, starvation preferentially protects host cells, but not cancer cells. Indeed, a link between insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels and chemotherapy protection has been shown.1
It is thought that a great deal of the short and long-term side effects from chemotherapy results from the damage to bone marrow, and the production of immune cells in the blood. Multiple cycles of prolonged fasting have been shown to reduce the immunosuppression and mortality due to chemotherapy, as well as reverse the age-dependent reduction in immunity.2
Inflammation refers to the body's complex biological response to physiological stressors including foreign bodies (e.g. infections), and trauma (e.g. physical damage of tissues). There is a growing body of scientific knowledge showing that intermettent fasting may decrease inflammation, which normally plays a role in the processes of aging as well as other pathological processes.3,4
Lee, C., Safdie, F. M., Raffaghello, L., Wei, M., Madia, F., Parrella, E., . . . Longo, V. D. (2010). Reduced levels of IGF-I mediate differential protection of normal and cancer cells in response to fasting and improve chemotherapeutic index. Cancer Res, 70(4), 1564-1572. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.can-09-3228
Cheng, C. W., Adams, G. B., Perin, L., Wei, M., Zhou, X., Lam, B. S., . . . Longo, V. D. (2014). Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. Cell Stem Cell, 14(6), 810-823. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.014
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