Does Intermittent Fasting Boost Your Immune System?

Does Intermittent Fasting Boost Your Immune System?

Paying attention to your body and how you feel is one of the best things you can do for yourself today. Our bodies are in constant dialog with us, telling us exactly what we need so we can get it.

If you’ve been feeling:

  • Fatigued even when you get enough sleep
  • Easy prey to colds and/or infections
  • You have a hard time healing from small wounds, or
  • You have accumulated some hard-to-eliminate fat around your belly

Your body is probably telling you: Hey there it’s time to boost immune system response!

We need help down here!

Now, don’t be upset at your body when it starts to get sick; feeling frustrated at your body’s immune response or low defenses just feeds the issue with more stress (hello cortisol!)  that you don’t need. The issue might be simpler than you think:

Your digestive system might be overworked.

The digestive system was not really designed to be working nearly 24X7; during evolution our bodies had limited access to food, and nowadays we feed it (and activate it) constantly.

Does this sound like you? You wake up and have a smoothie (good for you!), then grab a quick bite mid-morning (anything from a banana to a bagel) and around noon you have lunch. This process is repeated throughout the day, and by the time you have dinner, it’s almost bedtime.

Nutrition is not just about what we eat, but about when we eat it. This eating pattern may be over-activating your digestive system.

It may be affecting your immune system.

Research has shown that prolonged and intermittent fasting may have the ability to regenerate or boost immune system response, showing significant improvement in blood cell count of cancer patients post-chemotherapy.

How can this help you? In this post we’ll tell you:

  • What is Immunity
  • The Digestive System’s Connection to Immunity
  • What is Intermittent Fasting
  • How to Boost Immune System Response with Intermittent Fasting

 

What is Immunity

When you want to boost immune system response (and sleep better, have more energy, recover more quickly, and get fewer colds,) you start researching “how to boost immune system” and get lots of wonderful, and sometimes misleading, advice on the Internet.

However, you may not be clear on what is immunity itself. It’s a lot easier to boost immune system networks when you understand what immunity is.

So, what is immunity?

It’s the ability your body has to resist toxins or infections with white blood cells, antibodies, and the immune system response.

The immune system is comprised of organs, tissue, and cells that resist those dangerous organisms that may harm us. It includes the lymphoid organs, tonsils, adenoids, bowel, spleen, skin, blood vessels and even bone marrow.

The real MVPs are the white blood cells that seek and destroy infected cells, free radicals, and toxic elements throughout the body.


The Digestive System’s Connection to Immunity

So, now that you know what is immunity, how does your digestive system affect or boost immune system response?

At the most basic level, digestion breaks down food into nutrients and components our body can use to create energy, repair cells, stimulate growth, regulate hormones, and leverage antioxidants (our favorites, since they attack free radicals that damage healthy tissue), and overall fuel your life.

Quite literally, food is our fuel: what you eat can either compromise or boost immune system networks.  (We actually wrote about 20 foods that boost immune system response not so long ago, good side-reading.)

In addition, the digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. All with various immunity functions that keep your body infection-free, and healthy.

The Digestive System

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Intestines (small and large)
  • Colon
  • Anus

The bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract helps with digestion, affects the nervous system, and aids in circulation. The digestive system is the home of the “gut microbiome” a network of different bacteria types that play critical roles in disease-fighting and maintaining optimum health.

The digestive system produces enzymes in the stomach that sterilize food, protecting the body from infection. Additionally, the liver filters blood and removes toxins in a body detox process that never ends, while the intestines eliminate waste along with any harmful substance the body may have found.

As you can see, the digestive system is vital to boost immune system defenses, as it’s in the frontlines of disease fighting.


What is Intermittent Fasting

Now that you understand what is immunity and how the digestive system can make or break it, what is intermittent fasting and how does it boost immune system defenses?

Intermittent Fasting is a nutrition system that regulates energy intake through controlled eating, and fasting, cycles.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss has gained lots of attention over the past few months, given that it’s an incredibly effective way to “diet” without dieting. Far beyond the weight loss, the benefits of intermittent fasting are rooted in that ancient way of eating -and leveraging energy- that got us to evolve from caves to palaces.


The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is used to activate the metabolism and force your body to trigger a survival response that:

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, as the name shows, is an on-and-off fasting cycle. These are the most common types of cycles of intermittent fasting schedules.

  • 16:8 Fasting: Eat during an eight (8) hour period and fasting for 16 hours. Most people eat between 10:00AM and 6:00PM and either replace a meal (dinner or breakfast) with juices or have three controlled meals within that period.
  • 5:2 Fasting: Eat as usual for five days a week, and then fast on two non-consecutive days, or eat just one-quarter of the regular daily caloric intake.
  • Alternative Day Fasting: Fasts every other day.
  • Warrior Fast: fast all day, eating only small portions of fruits and vegetables, and eat one large meal at night.

Boost Immune System Response with Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting has an important impact on the metabolism and the immune system:

#1 Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Inflammation:

Inflammation is a healthy and natural response to injury, where the body swells tissue to aid in recovery. However, this process should have a beginning, middle, and end; chronic inflammation is detrimental to your immune system.

Inflammation takes white blood cells to an injured area to protect the body from infection when the swelling doesn’t go away, the body depletes itself as it continuously sends back protective signals to an area that no longer needs it.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, in addition to suppressing proinflammatory cells like cytokines, as well as fighting inflammation on healthy subjects. You boost immune system response when Inflammation is reduced or eliminated.

#2 Intermittent Fasting May Help Thyroid Function

We know there’s a connection between hormones, thyroid, and weight gain, but there is also a connection between the thyroid and the immune system. Fasting has a direct impact on the metabolic rate, and it affects thyroid hormones by dropping T3 levels and increasing reverse T3 (rT3).

The research shows that once the fasting period is over, the hormones go back to their balanced state. The thyroid works with the immune system to regulate metabolic functions.

#3 Intermittent Fasting May Stimulate Autophagy:

Autophagy is a process where old, damaged, and abnormally developing cells are broken down and recycled for energy. Autophagy is part of the immune system’s ability to recognize viral cells and invading organisms. Intermittent Fasting (IF) activates cellular autophagy and waste degradation.

You can boost immune system response supporting and stimulating autophagy.

#4 May Help Regulate Circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm is also known as the sleep-wake cycle, and it is a 24hr clock that cycles between alertness and drowsiness, regulating the hormones that run our bodies so we can make the most of our light/night exposure.

Intermittent fasting serves as a time for “standby and repair” according to this study, which may help boost immune system response by allowing the body to recover and balance hormonal processes.

#5 Intermittent Fasting May Alleviate Auto-Immune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and colitis, occur when the immune system mistakenly takes healthy tissue as invading one, and reacts towards it, compromising immune response to real threats and creating a variety of health issues for the individual.

Intermittent Fasting has shown in both animal and human trials to reduce flare-up and symptoms, for numerous auto-immune illnesses.  

#6 May Help Prevent and Fight Cancer

Intermittent fasting has been the subject of multiple studies, some show that fasting “promotes differential stress sensitization,” which may improve the efficacy of certain chemotherapies.

Additionally, IF may starve cancer cells, which have ten to seventy times more insulin receptors than healthy cells, by controlling blood sugar as this study  and this animal trial show.

 

Bottomline

As you can see, yes intermittent fasting may boost immune system response and even regenerate your immune system entirely if you practice it responsibly long enough; one week will not yield the same results than the ones from a three-month period.

If you’re looking to strengthen your immune system we have a great immunity booster coming up, in the meantime support your intermittent fasting journey with our sunrise to sundown power box.

 

Disclaimer:

It’s important to remember that intermittent fasting is not about starvation, pain, or self-harm. It’s a regulated energy intake practice with enormous health benefits, please do not practice IF even to boost immune system response if you are pregnant, suspect pregnancy, are breastfeeding or have had an eating disorder in the past.

Consult a licensed physician to make sure you can try intermittent fasting if you have diabetes, cardiovascular issues, or a heart condition.



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