Fasting can regenerate immune system

Latest study at the University of California shows that even a three day fast can kick start stem cells into producing new white blood cells,which fight off infection. Ofcourse, medical guidance is advised.


By Sarah Knapton
The Telegraph
June 5, 2014

Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune
system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough
described as “remarkable”.

Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being
unhealthy, 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 the discovery
could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged
immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.

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.

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.

“It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating
and rebuild the entire system,” said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of
Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.

“And 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.”

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but
also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.

During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells
induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune
system cells.

In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four
days over a six-month period.

Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA,
which is linked to ageing 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,” Dr Longo said.

“What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that
the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when
you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well,
where does it come from?”

Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic
impact of chemotherapy.

“While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage
to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may
mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said co-author
Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris
Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital.

“More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention
should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”

“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable
to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” added
Prof Longo.

However, some British experts were sceptical of the research.

Dr Graham Rook, emeritus professor of immunology at University College
London, said the study sounded “improbable”.

Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at UCL, said: “There is
some interesting data here. It sees that fasting reduces the number and
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.”

Dr Longo added: “There is no evidence at all that fasting would be
dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial.

“I have received emails from hundreds of cancer patients who have
combined chemo with fasting, many with the assistance of the oncologists.

“Thus far the great majority have reported doing very well and only a
few have reported some side effects including fainting and a temporary
increase in liver markers. Clearly we need to finish the clinical
trials, but it looks very promising.”



William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.

Fasting involves voluntary total food deprivation (water only or distilled water only), juice-fasting which permits fruit juices or distilled water and lemon juice. Fasting has a long history as a symbolic demonstration of religious devotion, act of protest, or commitment to a political cause. Various so-called “natural health” or “hygienic” practitioners advocate fasting to “cleanse the body” or as a cure-all. Herbert Shelton, advocate of “natural hygiene”[1] and originator of the erroneous idea of “food combining” popularized by the best-selling pseudonutrition book Fit For Life, was an influential advocate of fasting. Other Shelton disciples include:

  • Judy Mazel, author of The Beverly Hills Diet (1981), said to be “ludicrous” and “full of misinformation so strange that it would be funny, except that so many people seem to believe it.”
  • Firewalk guru Tony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power which also taught nutrition nonsense (See NCAHF Newsletter, Jan-Feb, 1995).

Contrary to the teachings of proponents, fasting doesn’t “cleanse” or “rest” the liver. If anything, fasting overworks the liver by saturating it with toxins produced by fasting itself [2]. Fasting can be dangerous, especially when undertaken or supervised by ideologists who are blind to its actual effects. Shelton’s fasting regime was responsible for several deaths. A 49-yr-old man died of bronchial pneumonia that resulted from a 30-day distilled water diet sponsored by “Dr. Shelton’s Health School” in Texas (said to be sixth such death in five years while undergoing treatment at the school) [3] Proponents of fasting often evoke the dangerous “healing crisis” theory of naturopathy alleging that adverse symptoms experienced by the faster are “poisons being expelled by the body.” The misguided theory that adverse symptoms should be expected and welcomed as the body’s “re-tracing” is explained by Stanley Bass, ND, DC, PhC (Philosopher of Chiropractic):

The toxins being discarded are saving you from more serious disease which will result if you keep them in your body too much longer–possibly hepatitis, kidney disorders, blood disease, heart disease, arthritis, nerve degenerations or even cancer–depending upon your hereditary or structural weaknesses. Be happy you’re paying your bills now in an easy payment plan. With some, colds which haven’t appeared for a long time may occur, or even fevers. THIS IS NATURE’S WAY OF HOUSECLEANING. DON’T — but DON’T try to stop these symptoms …These symptoms are part of a curing process, and don’t try to cure a cure.

Those who have lived worse lives and poisoned themselves more will experience more severe symptoms. Headaches may occur at the beginning; fever and/or colds may appear; the skin may break out; there may be a short interval of bowel sluggishness, occasional diarrhea, feelings of tiredness and weakness, disinclination to exercise, nervousness, irritability, negativity or mental depression, frequent urination, etc.REALIZE DEEPLY that your body is becoming younger and healthier every day because you are throwing off more and more wastes which would eventually have brought pain, disease and suffering. Those who have the worst symptoms . . . and follow through to their successful termination are thus avoiding some of the worst diseases which would eventually have developed had they continued their careless eating habits.

The notion that adverse symptoms should be disregarded, or even rejoiced about, caused Bivian Lee to ignore serious symptoms of cardiac myopathy that developed during a very-low-calorie Herbalife diet program. When Lee blacked out, his wife discovered his condition and made an appointment for him to see a physician. Sadly, Lee died in front of his 4-year-old daughter before the appointment could be kept [4].

Physical Effects of Fasting

Except for the brain, which consumes more calories than any other organ and has a constant need for glucose whether one is asleep or awake, one’s metabolic rate varies with physical activity and by day and nightime effects. The body’s ongoing need for nutrition is met by stores in the cells and liver, circulating blood, and gastrointestinal contents. Fasting causes blood sugar to drop. This leads to a breakdown (catabolism) of muscle and other protein tissue for energy. During fasting, catabolism is a kind of “self-cannibalism” the by-products of which (ammonia and urea) lead to acidosis that produces weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression, depressed libido, and a sick feeling. Fasting does not cleanse the system, but loads it with metabolic toxins while decreasing its ability to destroy and excrete these. Fasting leads to rapid loss of water, sodium, and potassium. This decreases blood volume which produces postural hypotension (low blood pressure when standing up), and fainting. Severe potassium depletion can cause a fatal heart rhythm disturbance. The body cannot differentiate between voluntary fasting and starvation and deaths have occurred even with medically supervised fasts and near-fasts. People who survive prolonged fasts (starvation) may suffer anemia, decreased immunity, osteoporosis, kidney damage, or liver damage. Depressed gastrointestinal or digestive functions may persist for weeks or months [v]. The worst thing about fasting is its destruction of lean and vital tissue needed for a healthy and active life. Fasting, like colonic irrigation, laxatives, sweat baths, and other naturopathic regimes are at best useless, and at worst, can be fatal. Fasting is particularly dangerous for children.

Case. A 3.5 yr-old girl died of malnutrition and pneumonia following a 27-day water fast [6]. Her parents were disciples of a naturopath, Kenneth Jaffrey, who believed that fasting was beneficial. The couple placed the little girl on a diet of distilled water for 27 days to clean her body of toxins that they believed had built up through expose to orthodox medicine. The girl’s father was described as “intolerant of medical practitioners” and “arrogant in view of life.” At death, the child was half of her expected weight [7].

  1.  A 9-year-old girl died in Ottawa, Canada after being on a water-only diet for 40-days. Mellissa Larochelle was treated at home in the northern Ontario town of Hearst with the diet which, according to provincial police “apparently has some religious overtones to it. It’s somehow connected to the 40 days and nights Jesus fasted and its supposed to purge your system,” they said. Mellissa was seized by the Children’s Aid Society and hospitalized in Ottawa but died on March 16, 1990. The girl’s grandmother, Rollande Turgeon, 55, was sentenced to 6 months in jail on January 18, 1991 after pleading guilty to negligence causing bodily harm. Turgeon had taken courses and was accredited by the American Hygiene Association. She operated a so-called fasting clinic at her house. Turgeon was treating Mellissa for an ear infection. In passing sentence the judge said that Turgeon had made a grave error in judgment by not contacting doctors sooner. He stated that “she was blinded by the principles of fasting and didn’t believe in medical intervention.” [8]

Psychology of Fasting

The psychology of fasting is consistent with asceticism (self-denial). Ascetics find pleasure in pain. This reversal of perception is rooted in a negative self-concept. Ascetics feel badly when good things happen to them because they do not feel worthy. They feel good when they are deprived of what gives normal people pleasure because they are getting what they feel they deserve. Puritans were ascetics. They are remembered for the concept that “if it feels good, don’t touch it,” “if it tastes good, don’t eat it,” and “if it looks good, cover your eyes!” Ascetics love to give up things. When they are sick they often think, “If I give up something more, I will be better.” Fasting and austere diets that amount to near-fasting have appeal to ascetics for whom sacrifice has become the route to health and eternal salvation. Little wonder that many religious zealots demonstrate their extreme devotion by fasting. The importance of psychological factors in the desire to fast can be seen in case reports.

  1.  A 36-yr-old male adherent to the Temple Beautiful diet died of malnutrition attempting to become a holy man who could live on air alone. Five years earlier, David Blume had been pursuing an idyllic career as an English teacher at Nathaniel Hawthorne college in New England. His students loved him. He was a tall, handsome man with clear, bright eyes and a gift for sharing ideas. Blume lost his teaching job because of budget cuts, and was unable to secure satisfactory employment. During his period of vulnerability, he meet Steven Haasz, founder and leader of Temple Beautiful. Haasz was a disciple of Ann Wigmore, originator of the wheatgrass fad. Blume chose the most rigorous of the group’s dietary options and began subsisting almost entirely on raw wheatgrass juice. His aim was to become a “breatharian” — a holy man who could live on air alone. On October 6, 1979, Blume’s lifeless body was found on the floor of his shabby Philadelphia apartment. He was 6 feet tall and weighed 87 lbs [9].
  2.  Several “patients” of Arthur Andrews, operator of the California Health Sanctuary at Hollister, CA, died following prolonged fasting. The California medical licensing board brought charges against Andrews for practicing medicine without a license because the purpose of the fasting had been to heal medical conditions. The defense argued that Andrews’ regime was intended to “heal the soul,” which was a religious matter. Andrews was fined $1,000 for the unlawful practice of medicine, but was allowed to continue operating as a religious retreat as long as he did not practice medicine [10].

NCAHF strongly advises against the use of prolonged fasting for health purposes, and believes that requiring children to fast is a form of child abuse.


Fasting – Kidneys

Back to Science and Medicine


Source: Wikipedia – Fasting (and other Wikipedia pages)

When we fast we have to make sure that our body is ok.

Fasting and Kidneys

The kidneys filter out waste products from the blood and excrete those into the urine. The kidneys also regulate the levels of electrolytes in the blood, the pH balance and blood pressure. The kidneys also produce certain hormones. Hormones are chemicals that regulate specific body functions and health.

The body uses the sugar glucose as its source of energy. If we cease to eat, or are eating less and our food does not supply the amount of energy that our body is using, we gradually run out of glucose. The body then uses glucose storage glycogen, and when glycogen runs out the body breaks down fat for energy. When the person runs out of fat to burn, the body spends proteins for energy source. By the time when the body is using protein for energy, we say that the body is no longer fasting, it is starving.

Starvation can lead to kidney failure. “Kidney failure” sounds like the kidneys dying, but is actually the name for kidneys not functioning properly. Kidney failure means that the filtration rate of the kidneys is impaired and reduced and the kidneys are unable to carry out their filtration properly. Waste products and toxins may accumulate in the blood stream. If high levels of urea accumulate in the blood, symptoms appear such as vomiting or diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, nocturnal urination, more frequent urination or of unusually larger amount and pale color, or less frequent urination in smaller amounts and dark color. Blood in the urine, or feeling a pressure or difficulty urinating.

Abnormal fluid levels in the body or inappropriate pH. Abnormal levels of potassium, calcium or phosphate. Buildup of potassium in the blood can cause abnormal heart rhythms and muscle paralysis. A buildup of phosphate can lead to itching, bone damage, or muscle cramps due to low levels of calcium.

Kidney failure can cause proteins from the blood, which are normally too large to pass, to enter into the urine, causing the urine to become foamy or bubbly as well as swelling in the hands, feet, abdomen, or face; the condition is called proteinuria.

Failing kidneys may produce less of the hormone erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Less of the hormone means fewer red blood cells are produced, leading long-term to anemia. Anemic blood cannot carry enough oxygen, resulting in the person feeling tired, weak, to have memory problems, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and low blood pressure, possibly due to insufficient oxygen to tissue which in turn means that the body is unable to use oxygen to convert glucose or other energy source chemicals into energy.

Kidney failure can also cause a loss of appetite. A bad taste in the mouth. Difficulty sleeping. Darkening of the skin.

Causes of kidney failure (that are relevant to fasting or starvation) include the kidneys being overloaded with toxins, or insufficient blood supply to the kidneys. There are two forms of kidney failure: acute, and chronic. Kidneys can recover from acute kidney failure and return back to normal although with some risk of relapse. Chronic kidney failure is far more serious and might not be reversible. The two most common causes of chronic kidney failure are diabetes mellitus and uncontrolled long-term high blood pressure. Severe cases of chronic kidney failure require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

People can buy a simple blood testing kit for home to test their levels of creatinine in the blood. Its reading can then be converted into a measure of kidney function. Creatinine is a toxic substance which healthy kidneys excrete from the blood. Elevated levels of creatinine may indicate kidney failure.


I am no expert on topics of health and would like to do a lot more in-depth study into the topic of kidneys, fasting and health, but one thing that is striking is that many of the physical symptoms that indicate to kidney failure are ones that many in the Breatharian culture interpret as being good signs of detoxification. I am however not convinced that these symptoms are beneficial or that they be signs that the body is cleaning itself.

The bad taste in the mouth, frequent urination of small amounts and dark urine, weakness, problems with concentration, dizziness, memory problems, are typical symptoms that people experience when they are doing a fast that is intended to be part of activation of Breatharianism. I do not believe that these symptoms are signs that the body is cleaning itself or that it is improving itself, it is more than likely signs that the body is dehydrated and that the kidneys are not functioning properly.

The problem is that Breatharianism is a physiological condition which seems to be activated mentally by the person by means of the collective of their thoughts, emotions, intentions, and beliefs, which seems to regulate the physical body into a state where it is able to endure prolongued periods of fasting, whereas without that mental stimulus the body would enter into all the typical conditions of starvation and dehydration. But not all who attempt Breatharianism are able to mentally activate it and so they have these typical symptoms of dehydration and starvation when they attempt to fast, but the problem is that many will then dismiss the seriousness of their symptoms and call them detoxification.

Real Breatharianism does not involve these symptoms. I cannot advise anyone to attempt Breatharianism because of the many health risks, yet still there is such a physiological phenomenon as Breatharianism so it still deserves to be discussed. It is important that you do not end up with protein deficiency or dehydration. Take care of the kidneys and body.