When I cured myself of serious chronic condition with fasting more than a decade ago, I had no idea that science would soon prove that my healing was neither accidental nor miraculous, but rather a result of cells regenerating and cleansing themselves when we abstain from food.
In 2016, the Japanese cellular biologist Yoshinori Oshumi won the Nobel Prize for proving the process of authophagy, the way cells utilizes and recycles unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components. In other words, I was able to heal my chronic condition during my 14 day juice fast because the fast allowed my cells to detox, regenerate and rebuild themselves.
My healing was in part the result of authophagy, a term describing a biological process which in Greek literally means “self-eating.” During my fast, my dysfunctional cells had, in other words, consumed their own dysfunctions so that regeneration and healing could take place.
A more recent study at MIT found that fasting boosts the regenerating capacity of stem cells, especially in the colon. As we get older, our intestinal stem cells begin to lose their ability to regenerate. These stem cells are the source for all new intestinal cells, so this decline can make it more difficult to recover from gastrointestinal infections or other conditions that affect the intestine.
This age-related loss of stem cell function can be reversed by a 24-hour fast, according to a new study from MIT biologists. The researchers found that fasting dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate, in both aged and young mice.
Many other studies on various forms of fasting, from water fasting to juice fasting, from dry fasting (only for 24 hours) to intermittent fasting—when you abstain from food for at least 16 hours a day, have proven the many health benefits of abstaining from solid food. Her are some of the results found in the studies:
- Mice with autoimmune diseases was put through a three day fast every seven days. The study found increased levels of corticosterone [a steroid hormone], a reduction in inflammation-causing cytokines, and improvements in white blood ‘t cells’ responsible for immunity.
- The fasting-mimicking diet protocol promoted the regeneration of myelin that had been damaged by autoimmunity.
- The fasting-mimicking diet also resulted in improved metabolism and cognitive function, decreased bone loss and cancer incidence, and extended longevity.
- In humans, the fasting mimicking diet used in the prescribed regularity and length, reduced multiple risk factors of aging.
- Cycles of prolonged fasting reduced damage in bone marrow stem and progenitor cells, and protect against chemotoxicity.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).