Fasting Repairs the Immune System

Hungry person hand holding fork knife on food plate

Hungry person hand holding fork knife on food plate

An exciting new study reported in Cell Reports finds fasting-mimicking diet reduces MS symptoms in mice and humans. Fasting kills off the bad cells and regenerators healthy ones. By fasting for three day, returning to a normal diet of seven and repeating this for three cycles, the immune system repairs itself.

Valter Longo lead the study for USC Longevity Institute. He explains, “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? That’s why we started this study.” Results of his study showed increased corticosterone levels, the steroid hormone responsible for controlling metabolism, a decrease in cytokines, which cause inflammation, “improvements in the white blood ‘T cells’ responsible for immunity,” and most importantly, myelin regeneration.

A pilot of 18 MS patients in Berlin had participants on a cycle of fasting and then moved to a Mediterranean diet for six months while the others compared controlled and ketogenic or high-fat diets. Longo emphasized, “What we don’t want is patients trying to do this at home without involvement of their specialist or without understanding the that larger trials are necessary to confirm that the diet, as a treatment, is effective again multiple sclerosis or other autoimmunities.”

In Young Choi et al. A Diet Mimicking Fasting Promotes Regeneration and Reduces Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms. Cell Reports, May 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.ceirep.2016.05.009.

Image from

About the Author

Melissa Cook
Melissa Cook is the author of As a retired high school teacher and school district administrator, she chooses to share her MS story in hopes of benefiting others.