The healing properties of fasting have been known for many years, but now, the latest research studies have uncovered the way it works on a cellular level.

It has been shown that fasting has incredible effects on the immune system since it increases the self-healing ability of the body. Therefore, it is considered as a valuable treatment for numerous medical conditions.

As scientists have explained, during the first 48 hours of fasting, the stored glucose in the body is depleted.

This triggers complex biochemical processes that are supposed to conserve energy while fueling the vital organs adequately. The energy conserving mechanisms have numerous benefits, such as increasing the immune system’s ability for self-regeneration.

This may be extremely helpful for patients diagnosed with cancer disease, who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Another research has shown that fasting reduces the toxicity caused by chemotherapy. Namely, cancer patients who were fasting during chemotherapy reported less severe side effects in comparison to those who underwent only the chemotherapy treatment.

Some more extensive studies have shown that fasting reduces cell death, prevents DNA damage and reduces chemotherapy-triggered mortality in rats.

The most important of all is that 5 cycles of chemotherapy along with fasting helped the patients to normalize the levels of WBC (white blood cells), which was not the case with those in the control group.

Scientists also detected increase in the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that are normally produced in the bone marrow. These cells are supposed to stimulate the production of all other cells in the body, including WBC which can modulate the function of the immune system. Fasting provoked regeneration of the immune cells in healthy rats and returned the levels of HSC in aging rats.

These dramatic results surprised the scientists. The primary author of this study, Valter Longo said that fasting eliminated the parts of the system that are insufficient, old or damaged. So, if your immune system is damaged due to aging or chemotherapy, it can be regenerated with fasting.

The most fascinating thing was that that prolonged fasting reduces the levels of the enzyme PKA which is associated with the process of aging and a hormone which increases the risk of tumor growth and cancer, such as the insulin-like growth factor-1.

This factor plays an important role in the immune cell regeneration, since its low levels are linked to slower aging and lower risk of cancer. Rats that were given extra doses of insulin-like growth factor-1 during fasting didn’t have increased levels of HSCs.

Within the same study, scientists assigned cancer patients who underwent chemotherapy to either 24 or 72 hours of fasting along with the conventional cancer treatment. The results were quite similar to those seen in rats. The fasting group had a significant improvement in immune cell count in comparison to the control group.

This research was done in hopes of preventing or lowering the side effects of chemotherapy. So, when you starve, your body tries to conserve energy by recycling the immune system cells that are no longer needed, like the ones that are old or damaged. This in turn decreases the white blood cells.

Tanya Dorrf, who is an assistant of clinical medicine at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in the U.S, says that although chemotherapy destroys cancer cells and saves lives, it triggers collateral damage to the immunity. Therefore, fasting can mitigate the harmful effects caused by chemotherapy.

This promising research suggests that fasting has immune-boosting properties for healthy people as well as for cancer patients. It stimulates the energy shortage, encourages the self-renewing ability of the immune system and replaces the old immune cells with new ones.

Nevertheless, further research is needed, especially in terms of investigating the effects of fasting on different organs and systems as well.

So, this kind of dietary intervention must be undertaken under the supervision and guidance of a health care provider.