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Intermittent fasting may improve immunity and aid fat loss

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 9 months ago

A recent study has found that intermittent fasting could enhance the effectiveness of immune cells in fighting pathogens and cancers. Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years for its weight loss benefits, as it deprives the body of glucose and forces it to break down fat to produce ketones, an alternative fuel source. This study, conducted by researchers at the Van Andel Institute in Michigan, focused on T cells, a type of immune cell that plays a crucial role in combating infections and tumors.

The researchers discovered that T cells do not rely heavily on glucose for energy, contrary to previous beliefs. Instead, they found that effective T cells showed increased activity in genes related to breaking down ketones. To further investigate, the researchers genetically engineered mice to be unable to break down ketones and compared their immune response to mice that could. The mice that could break down ketones had a significantly higher number of T cells producing cytokines, substances that kill off pathogens, and were able to produce more cytokines per T cell. Additionally, when cancerous cells were injected into the mice, tumors in the mice that couldn't break down ketones were twice the size.

These findings suggest that immune cells are more effective at fighting disease when using ketones as a fuel source. They also provide insight into the benefits of fasting for 12 or more hours daily, which has been shown to improve immune function in mice. The results could also help understand how dietary interventions that increase ketone production, such as intermittent fasting, may impact our ability to fight off infections and cancer. However, the researchers caution that not all ketone-producing diets have the same effects. For example, the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, may impair immunity as high levels of fat can suppress immune cells.

This study sheds light on the potential benefits of intermittent fasting for immune function and highlights the importance of further research in this area. Understanding how different dietary interventions affect our immune system could have significant implications for disease prevention and treatment.

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