Fasting could help fight autoimmune conditions: Study

 02 Jun 2016 - 0:00

Fasting could help fight autoimmune conditions: Study
 

California: New research has shown that a diet involving periods of fasting could help fight autoimmune conditions - which are a range of disorders, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, that occur when a patient's immune system starts attacking its own body. 
The initial study was performed in mice, but a small, follow-up trial in humans showed that the calorie-restricted diet was also able to help reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The team is so excited they're now quickly moving into larger clinical trials.
"During the fasting-mimicking diet, cortisone is produced and that initiates a killing of autoimmune cells," said lead researcher Valter Longo from the University of South California. "This process also leads to the production of new healthy cells." 
So what exactly is a fasting diet? Eating plans such as 5:2 or intermittent fasting have been growing in popularity lately, but the fast-mimicking diet developed by Longo and his team basically works by cutting calorie-consumption in half for three days out of seven. 
And now in both mice and humans, they've shown early evidence this pattern could help reverse some of the damage of autoimmune conditions. 
The team had already done quite a lot of work on fasting, with their earlier research showing that calorie-restriction diets could not only cut fat, but also reduce markers of ageing and disease in humans. 
"We started thinking: If it kills a lot of immune cells and turns on the stem cells, is it possible that maybe it will kill the bad ones and then generate new good ones?" said Longo. 
To test this out, the team first took a group of mice with autoimmune disease and put them on a fasting-mimicking diet for three weeks, which meant they fasted for a total of nine days over the 21-day period.
Compared to a control group, the mice on the fasting diet had reduced disease symptoms by the end of the study, and the eating plan had "caused complete recovery for 20% of the animals," the researchers write in Cell Reports. 

QNA