In a new study, researchers found that fasting may reduce inflammation and help treat chronic inflammatory diseases.
The research was conducted by a team from Mount Sinai.
Fasting regimens have gained public and scientific interest in recent years, but fasting shouldn’t be dismissed as a fad.
In the study, the researchers found that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections.
While acute inflammation is a normal immune process that helps fight off infections, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for health, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Caloric restriction is known to improve inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, but the mechanisms by which reduced caloric intake controls inflammation have been poorly understood.
In the study, the team examined human and mouse immune cells and found intermittent fasting reduced the release of pro-inflammatory cells called “monocytes” in blood circulation.
Further analysis revealed that during periods of fasting, these cells go into “sleep mode” and are less inflammatory than monocytes found in those who were fed.
The team says monocytes are highly inflammatory immune cells that can cause serious tissue damage, and the population has seen an increasing amount in their blood circulation as a result of eating habits that humans have acquired in recent centuries.
Considering the broad spectrum of diseases that are caused by chronic inflammation and the increasing number of patients affected by these diseases, there is enormous potential in investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting.
The researchers plan to continue trying to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which fasting improves inflammatory diseases, which could lead to novel preventive therapeutic strategies for the treatment of many human diseases.
One author of the study is Miriam Merad, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The study is published in Cell.
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