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BY SIYANDA NKALA • 27 NOVEMBER 2014 • EAT BETTER, EXPERT ADVICE, GET FIT, HEALTH, HEALTH STUDIES, HEALTHY AND HAPPY, HOME FEATURED, JUST IN, LIFESTYLE TIPS, PLAN YOUR DIET • COMMENTS (0) • 84

 When it comes to boosting your immunity, Scientists have discovered a breakthrough that has been described as remarkable. The new study reveals that  fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly.

This new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. Scientists at the University of Southern California say this discovery could be particularly beneficial for those who have damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.

The study further suggests that it could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases, suggests a report published by the Telegraph.

The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch”, which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.

Professor Valter Longo, of the Gerontology and Biological Sciences at the University of California was quoted as saying: “It gives the okay for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system.”

He adds: “The good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

Scientists have discovered that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” added Prof Longo.

“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,” said Longo.

Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at the University of California, also told the Telegraph that the data of the study is interesting, it also sees the that fasting reduces the number and the size of cells and then re-feeding at 72 hours saw a rebound.

“That could be potentially useful because that is not such a long time that it would be terribly harmful to someone with cancer. But I think the most sensible way forward would be to synthesize this effect with drugs. I am not sure fasting is the best idea. People are better eating on a regular basis.”