I admit, I used to think of fasting as a “fad,” with no potential health benefit. However, the emerging research has changed my mind, and you might want to learn about this fascinating topic too! Running on Empty, a nice overview article in The Scientist, highlights the many ways in which purposefully skipping food for hours to days may improve health.
According to Running on Empty, “periodic fasting reprograms T-cell populations, tamping down autoimmunity.” The author notes, “…lack of incoming calories appears to prune away autoimmune T cells…” and “…several fasting studies have also pointed to a decrease in inflammatory cytokines.” This should improve health for people with autoimmune conditions.
Can fasting help people with cancer? Preventing, managing, and curing cancer is another topic I’m passionate about. According to the article, intermittent fasting may make “tumor cells more susceptible to chemotherapeutic agents while protecting healthy cells from the treatment’s toxicity,…” Studies in mice support this effect, and human studies are being undertaken to see if this works for people with cancer too.
The article in The Scientist describes different types of fasting and discusses how intermittent fasting may be of benefit for preventing and managing other chronic diseases as well, such as heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and more. Check it out and see if you find the idea of fasting for health as interesting as I do.
Please keep in mind, if you have a health condition or take prescription or over-the-counter medication for any reason, do not try fasting without first talking to your doctor. Going without calories for longer than normal may change how your body uses medication, or may not be safe for you for other reasons.