When friends get chatting about intermittent fasting, they mostly talk about its miraculous weight loss and fat burn effects, and sometimes about how fasting is beneficial for gut health, but its other health benefits are often underrated.
Boosting the immune system is one of the many important benefits of intermittent fasting, as the immune system is the shield that protects your body against illnesses.
In this article, you’ll find details about the relationship between intermittent fasting and the immune system, and the answer to the question “Can fasting improve your immune system?”, together with the best intermittent fasting plans for immunity.
The immune system functions as a protector against diseases by fighting viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
This system consists of a collection of several organs, white blood cells, and other chemicals. Your tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, small intestines, thymus glands, and bone marrow are just a few of its elements.
Does intermittent fasting help immune system?
Intermittent fasting and immunity can’t be considered separately, as fasting is known to start a process called autophagy in the body.
Autophagy is a body cleanse system that brings longevity and protects you from many serious diseases. After being depleted of nutrition for a while, the body starts to clean itself up by eating the old, damaged, and infected cells. The body then has room for young, healthy cells. This is the best detox mechanism you can imagine!
How long should you fast to boost autophagy?
Autophagy starts around the 14th hour of the fasting window, and it gets broader and more effective as your fasting period extends. The autophagy mechanism accelerates between the 24th and 48th hours of fasting.
But eating nothing and drinking only zero-calorie beverages for 1-2 days is no easy ask. So this should only be attempted by advanced, experienced intermittent fasters, who don’t have any medical issues that could create potential health problems.
If you can extend your fasting for up to 72 hours (3 days!), you will enter a stage called “the deep ketosis”, which is the final stage of fasting. When you’re in deep ketosis:
- The body gets better at clearing out toxins and stress hormones.
- The immune system starts to rejuvenate.
- Production of new stem cells is triggered.
- The body’s inflammation level decreases.
- The likelihood of inflammation-related diseases and conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, some forms of cancer, heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.) decreases.
- Existing inflammation-related diseases may begin to heal.
Prolonged fasting hours have also been found to offer protection against COVID-19 and its risk factors.
Best intermittent fasting schedule to boost immunity
As we have mentioned above, if you would like to boost your immune system, you should fast for at least 14 hours, which means you should follow a 14/10 intermittent fasting plan.
If you would like a greater boost in your immune system, you can gradually increase your fasting window by switching your plan to 16/8 and if you’re OK with that, you can gradually increase your fasting hours to 18/6 or 20/4 fasting plans. But note that long hours of fasting may not be suitable for everyone so don’t push yourself too hard simply go with the plan that you can easily stick to. Fasting Kompanion can guide you on the road to discovering the best intermittent fasting schedule for you and can help along the way with its science-backed blog articles on intermittent fasting, nutrition, and wellness and with its other tools that can help you with your unique fasting journey.
To sum up
Intermittent fasting sure is a perfect way to both lose weight, burn extra fat, and most importantly, get healthier by boosting your immune system.
But if you are or have been affected by a serious illness like cancer, checking in with your doctor before beginning intermittent fasting is vital, as fasting may not be beneficial for specific cancer types or all cancer stages. The same thing applies to other serious diseases too.