Throughout history, fasting has been used as a religious practice. Whether it be the Islamic month of Ramadan or newer Christian period of Lent, the practice of abstaining oneself from the primal desires of the body has been a practice for thousands of years. It is only more recently with the advances in scientific research that we are achieving an in-depth understanding of the vast array of benefits that underly this tradition.
In recent studies (cited below) mice were examined to learn about the decline in stem cell function in our gut that inevitably happens as we age. The older we get the slower our stem cells regenerate, the problem with this is that these stem cells are crucial building blocks for other cells involved with the makeup and health of our intestine. The further the decline the harder it is to recoup from infections and other gut-related illness.
Amazingly enough, this study showed that with 24 hour fasting periods you can dramatically increase stem cell regeneration in your stomach. (1)
The benefit of having a heightened stem cell count in your gut means that your body can rebuild and support healthy tissue as well as new growth, while simultaneously being a more effective way to combat a disease.
This study also showed that this fasting state triggered the stem cells to utilize fatty acids instead of the carbohydrates (glucose) for fuel. This change in fuel source led to an increase in their overall productivity. That increase in productivity could drastically increase gut health and regrowth of the lining of your intestine. When this theory was put to the test with mice that fasted for 24 hrs had double the capacity for regeneration in comparison to the unfasted mice. (2)
So to better understand this phenomenon the researchers took it a step further and dug into the mechanism driving this pattern of increased cell regeneration. (2) As it turns out by fasting the mice had activated a transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARs) which are a superfamily with three subtypes. This nuclear receptor plays a large part in how energy is used, regulated and the bodies overall metabolic function. (4)
Where this get’s even more interesting is when the mice were treated with GW-501516 (Also known by Cardarine or Endurobol) a PPAR-β/δ receptor agonist — ( PPAR-β/δ enhances the fatty acid metabolism in your body). (5,3) that some of the effects were replicated.
This is a stepping stone in increasing body longevity, durability, and resiliency. Although these tests were just done on mice it shows that altering metabolic pathways, even at a singular level can have a considerable effect on the way we age, function and rebuild ourselves over time. With increasing advances in scientific research and study discoveries like this could one day lead to pharmacological treatment that would increase intestinal health and longevity without the need to abstain from eating for extended periods of time.
If you found this article interesting please check out the entire study here,
( https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/pdf/S1934-5909(18)30163-2.pdf )
as well as read into the studies cited below.
2. https://www.sciencealert.com/fasting-for-just-24-hours-boosts-the-3. regeneration-of-stem-cells-study-finds-intestine-longevity