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Fasting Boosts Immunity, Lengthens Lifespan

Update Date: Jun 06, 2014 08:25 PM EDT

Fasting for eight days a year boosts health by strengthening immunity, according to a new study.

Researchers said this benefit is particularly pronounced in people with immune systems that have been wrecked by aging or cancer treatment, according to Daily Mail.

Lead researcher Valter Longo and his team said that fasting promotes replacement of old and damaged cells in the body.

"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Longo, longevity expert at the University of Southern California, said in a news release.

The latest study reveals that fasting for two to four days every half a year forced the body into survival mode by breaking down fat, sugar and old cells.

"The body then sent a signal telling stem cells to regenerate and 'rebuild the entire system,'" Longo said.

"With a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system," he added.

"It gives the 'okay' for the stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating - and rebuild the entire system," he added.

The latest study revealed fasting for 72 hours before chemotherapy helped cancer patients lose fewer white blood cells. Animal studies also revealed that fasting also cut illness and death in mice given chemotherapy drugs and increased longevity in aging mice.

"While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system," added co-researcher Dr. Tanya Dorff, according to Daily Mail.

"The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," Dorff concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Cell Stem Cell

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