What is immunity? Immunity is the state of being immune from or insusceptible to a disease or the like. It is the protection against infectious disease conferred by the immune response. It includes the body’s capacity to distinguish foreign material from self, and to neutralize, eliminate, or metabolize that which is foreign. When a foreign substance enters the body, complex chemical and mechanical activities are set into motion. These processes defend and protect the body's cells and tissues. The foreign substances are usually a protein, and called as antigen. The most common response to the antigen is the production of antibody, a protein synthesized by immune system that can help neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.. The antigen--antibody reaction is an important component of the overall immune response.
How Fasting Regenerates Immune System
Ayurveda describes fasting as Langhana or Upavasa. This therapy is considered the first line of treatment for balancing imbalanced bodily humors that are vital to maintain health. Langhana helps reinstate the vitiated digestive fire that in turns helps restore health. Ten types of Langhana therapies have been described as the four types of Panchakarma or purifying therapies (Therapeutic emesis, purgation, medicated enemas and nasal insufflations), Controlling thirst, Exposure to wind, Exposure to sun, – Administration of foods and medicine that are hot in nature, which helps in digestion, fasting and– physical exercise.
Cycles of prolonged fasting for 48 -120 hours are considered to help protect against immune system damage, they are also reported induce immune system regeneration - shifting, cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. Fasting has health benefits beyond weight loss. It may also help reduce symptoms of some auto immune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
In the elderly, immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease. Prolonged fasting cycles may help kill older and damaged immune cells and generates new ones. It may force the body to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones.. Prolonged fasting may also lower levels of certain substances like IGF-1, which are linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer risk.
Benefits of Intermittent fasting
Help Regenerate the immune cells.
During fasting, the body uses up stored glucose, fat and ketones, and also recycles worn out and damaged immune cells. The white blood cell count gets a boost when one resumes eating. However, fasting should only be done under medical supervision.
Provide a robust anti-aging intervention.
When the cells adapt to fasting, there is an enhancing effect on autophagy or the process in the body that deals with destruction of cells in the body. This helps maintains homeostasis or normal functioning by protein degradation and turnover of the destroyed cell organelles for new cell formation and may thereby exert anti-ageing effect. Autophagy is an essential part of the anti-ageing mechanism of caloric restriction. During intermittent fasting the autophagic response is triggered. It provides the cells the space and time needed to get debris and waste products out. Therefore, fasting can help repair and replenish the tear and wear in the body.
Help break unconscious habits around eating.
Frequent Meals, snacking, and emotional eating can go unchecked during the day. Intermittent fasting helps a person take a break from erratic eating habits. Fasting can re-route your track and tune the hunger signals your body is sending. Intermittent fasting plan can change your relationship with food. When it’s time to eat again, people respond, and relish the enjoyment gained through eating. True hunger can make the most ‘bland’ health foods taste delicious.
Fasting and the Immune System: How to Fast Safely Fasting the right way is essential if a person wants to benefit from the effect of fasting on immune system. Fasting can have negative effects on the body and immune system. It also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells if sustained for more than a few days. Fasting for two or three days is easier on the body. If one does it the right way, he/she should be able to make it through the 48 to 72 hours of fasting without too much suffering. It’s important to prepare yourself for a few days before the fast. Slowly wean yourself off coffee, sugar, alcohol and any other stimulants in the week leading up to the fast. Meat, fish, and dairy should be slowly reduced until you are accustomed to just eating fruits and veggies. Soups are recommended as they are watery yet filling and will help the body acclimatize. One can eat some fruit, seeds, and nuts, but focus should be on vegetables. 2-3 days before the fast one can have more of–fruits and veggie shakes. It will help prepare the digestive system. Fasting can be followed by a few days of blended raw foods. The body has to be brought back to solids slowly. One can wait at least a week before adding meat, dairy, and fish to the diet. Starting with lighter foods–nuts, seeds, grains, etc. is advisable.
- Preferably rink at least 8 glasses of water per day in addition to liquids like juices and teas.
- Diluting juices with water can help cut acidity.
- Tomato or orange juices can be avoided, as they are acidic and may cause acidity
- Taking herbal teas may be beneficial. Chamomile and peppermint teas may be soothing for your stomach.
- Lemon water may be beneficial. Squeeze fresh lemon into your water–about ½ -1 lemon per cup of water.
- Drink warm water as much as possible. It is good for the digestive system.
- Juice fruits and vegetable yourself. Consider having apples, beets, carrots, cabbage, celery, and grape.
- Make green drinks with kale, spinach, and collard greens.
- Mixing raw fruits and veggies in the same juice is often not practiced but these may be cooked together and consumed.