Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system


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Sorry, I always forget: are we for or against sensationalist science news stories plucked from questionable sources? Paging Dr. Koerth-Baker…


BoingBoing tends to be decidedly against foo, but for everything else the jury is still out.

Depends who’s posting…

Doing literally anything at all will regenerate your immune system. It’s replenishing stocks of white blood cells all the time–I read somewhere that they last about a year, compared to a few months for red blood cells.

The story’s not actually that sensationalistic. It’s just saying that it may be beneficial for e.g. chemo patients to fast as there’s some evidence that it encourages the production of more white blood cells.

The question is… does that benefit you more, in your particular situation, than the potential downsides of fasting. I mean most people who advocate fasting as a lifestyle thing are not actively going through chemotherapy or have some other health problem that particularly needs a boost of white blood cells. Is it particularly useful to “regenerate [your] entire immune system”?

So does this explain why I’m never hungry when I get sick (like flu like sick, not just the sniffles)?

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Chemo re-boots your immune system. It’s actually really amazing. Provided you live through the process, obviously. Fasting does not do anything like what chemo does. Maybe a slight increase in white blood cells? Definitely not enough to be noticeable.

“Fasting is a great remedie of feuer.”,_starve_a_fever


Dr Longo added: “There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous…"

This guy seems legit.


Just make sure it doesn’t get out of hand, or you could lose the best little allies you have for your good health…Starving Children Lack Crucial Gut Bacteria

Intriguing-- just wish The Telegraph weren’t the source. Some of the very worst crimes against journalism are committed by science reporters who misinterpret clinical studies.

Oh well…

So it’s “Feed a cold, starve a tumor?”

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There is a decent amount of data on fasting being good, check out intermittent fasting, compressed feeding windows, and that many of the people studied for the idea of the Mediterranean diet being good are on some kind of fast almost half the year, mostly protein, with some full fasts in there. At least a low protein day now and then is a good thing.

As noted to some degree above, with all science, but particularly medical science (IMHO) source is everything. Telegraph, or peer reviewed journal with good methodology?.. I know who I’m going to believe.

Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy

Nutritionists can argue all they want. Anyone can claim to be a nutritionist.

“Dietitian is like Dentist and Nutritionist is like Toothiologist” - Dara O’Briain

Dug up the paper, and it’s free open access from Cell, which is a rare thing:
I had a quick scan over the methods, abstract - looks pretty legit and carefully done; speaking as a leukemia / stem cell researcher. Whether it can be recapitulated in humans is still up in the air.


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