Last week we talked about the concept of Autophagy. For those who can’t remember, autophagy means “self-eating”. It’s when the body purposely “starves”, breaks down, and recycles faulty cells. Autophagy is the byproduct of fasting. It is one of the main reasons people take their fasting commitment beyond a few days. Depending upon the source, most researchers say that fasting between 3 and 4 days, causes the body to go into autophagy. Again, when this is happening, the body is deriving energy from stored body fat. The hierarchy in the body starves the “faulty” cells, these cells are then broken down and recycled.
If autophagy was the only benefit of a 3-4 day fast, it would be enough to warrant repeated fasting, periodically, throughout life. However, there is another major benefit to fasting, one that may be even more exciting than autophagy, and that’s the body’s ability to produce stem cells!
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain that stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells if the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
Understand the implications of the above paragraph. Stem cells can repair faulty cells. Organs are made up of cells, so by repairing faulty cells, over time, could stem cells help to repair faulty organs? Think about conditions where the organs aren’t functioning optimally. Kidney and liver disease, heart disease, Type 1 diabetes where the pancreas isn’t doing its job, conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the list goes on and on. There has been a clamoring in health care for years trying to get stem cell research funded. There are companies that have patient’s fly all over the country to get stem cell injections, at an enormous expense. Now we find out that through fasting, the body makes its own stem cells.
How long this process takes, and the recipe people are following to maximize stem cell production will be the topic of next weeks post. See you then.