Intermittent Fasting: The Secret to Immunity and More

Intermittent fasting could well be the answer to not only strengthening your immune system but also so much more! It seems to be all the rage nowadays, and for good reasons. This blog will explain why this is the case. We’ll look at the different components that make up your immune system, what intermittent fasting is, and what happens when you refrain from eating for extended periods. We’ll also discuss how you can start to incorporate intermittent fasting into your own life to reap all the health benefits of this wonderful technique.   

 

WHAT MAKES UP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM? 

Your immune system is a complex system comprised of a network of organs, white blood cells, proteins, and other chemicals that work as a team to protect you from foreign invaders that can cause numerous infections and diseases.   

The primary purpose of the immune system is to identify self from non-self. The body does this via both the innate immune system (the one you were born with) or the adaptive immune system (the one you acquire through exposure)The main parts of the immune system include: 

  • White blood cells (WBC) 

  • Antibodies (aka. Immunoglobulin) 

  • Lymphatic system

  • Spleen

  • Thymus

  • Bone Marrow

Perhaps of even more significance is the delicate balance of microbes living inside us that are crucial for fighting off different viruses and bacteria that cause disease. In the past few decades, scientists have learned that our bodies are home to more bacterial cells than human ones. This group of organisms that live in and on us are whats known as the microbiome.  

The bacteria found in the gut specifically balance the immune response against pathogens. This response works to fight against viruses that infect the gut as well as those infecting the lungs. The beneficial gut microbes initialize immune cells to produce powerful antiviral proteins that eventually eliminate viral infections. For this reason, we can see why having a healthy microbiome is fundamentally critical for strong immunity.    

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING? 

Intermittent fasting involves going without food for extended periods of time. There are many different ways to do this, including daily fasting, alternate-day fasting, or severalday fasts.  

The most popular way to do intermittent fasting is when you eat all your food in a 4 – 8 hour window, therefore regularly fasting for 16 – 20 hours.  

Depending on your lifestyle and schedule, you may decide to either skip breakfast or dinner. For example, eating between 8 am and 12 pm / 4 pm (depending on the length of fast you choose), skipping dinner, eating between 12 pm and 4 pm / 8 pm, skipping breakfast. Or, for more advanced intermittent fasting option, eat one meal per day of your choosing. 

If you stop to think about it, our ancestors fasted regularly. Back in the day, coming up with food sources wasn’t always easy. Oftentimes we would make a kill and feast for a few days, and then we might not have seen food again for another week or more. Our primal physiology is well acquainted with this “feasting” and “fasting,” and we’re better off incorporating more of this eating pattern into our lives for many reasons.  

Keep in mind that intermittent fasting isn’t a calorie-restrictive diet. You consume all the needed calories and nutrients in shorter eating window.  

 

TO IMMUNITY AND BEYOND, WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BODY WHEN YOU REFRAIN FROM EATING FOR EXTENDED PERIODS? 

Perhaps the most significant benefit of fasting, especially more prolonged fasts, is what’s known as autophagy. Autophagy means “self-eating,” and while this probably sounds like something you don’t want to have happened, its benefits are extraordinary for your health. Think of it as hitting the reset button in your body. It’s your body’s inherent way of cleaning out old and damaged cells while regenerating new healthier cells. Although autophagy happens at a much faster rate when longer fasts of at least 36 hours are undertaken and completed, studies show this can still occur with intermittent fasting with at least 17 hours of fasting time. 

Furthermore, studies show a beneficial effect on the microbiome when extended fasting times were conductedFasting provides a period of rest for the microbes in the gut and not only maintains and improves the beneficial bacteria found there, but it also enhances their ability to complete the countless processes they’re required for, from immunity to growth and repair. 

 

INTERMITTENT FASTING ACTIVATES KETONE METABOLISM 

When we break from consuming our often three meals plus snacks per day routine, our body can begin breaking down unwanted fat stores in our body and reset. This fat breakdown starts to happen when we switch from glucose metabolism to ketone metabolism. When we eat three meals per day, our bodies have a constant source of glucose. Our body naturally changes to using fatty acids and ketone bodies for fuel (aka. fat stores in your body) by eliminating glucose as a fuel source, known as ketone metabolism.  

Many studies have shown a multitude of health benefits occur when we enter ketone metabolism. Of most significance for this blog is our bodies begin to clean out old immune cells and start producing new ones, strengthening our overall immune response. Other benefits of intermittent fasting include: improved heart health (blood pressure and resting heart rate levels), weight loss, improved memory and focus, improved physical performance, decreased insulin resistance, reduced inflammation, and more. 

 

WHAT TO EAT WHEN INTERMITTENT FASTING? 

During the fasting period, when you’re not eating, consume only water, black coffee, herbal or black/green tea.  During your eating periods, a wide range of different foods can be eaten. As always, try and refrain from processed, fried, high sugar, and fast foods. Plantbased whole foods are optimal, but feel free to add free-range/hormonefree meats and other lean protein.  

 

THE BEAUTY OF INTERMITTENT FASTING 

Many of us live busy lives that are demanding both physically and mentally. We have become so accustomed to eating 3 + meals a day that it often feels socially awkward to not eat with our friends and family at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  

Intermittent fasting is great because most people can work the 18/6 window into their everyday life, continuing to enjoy some meals with friends or family 

Furthermore, this doesn’t have to be something you do 100% of the time, although the more often you can do this, the better. For those who are looking for a healthy way to lose weight that works, incorporating intermittent fasting 4-5 days per week will do much more than calorie counting, which by the wayis 100% proven NOT to work for weight loss 

 

REVIVO’s IMMUNE RESET RETREAT 

If youre interested in learning these techniques in a luxurious, harmonious, and supportive environment, our new Immune Reset retreat is for you! As we’ve learned, in as little as four days of intermittent fasting, your body will start to respond by improving the microbiome, using up fat stores, and building other critical components of your immune system. Beyond that, you will have more energy, fewer aches and painsfewer mood swings, and decreased food cravings than before. 

 

REFERENCES: 

forbes.com

hopkinsmedicine.org 

ixcela.com

theconversation.com

medicalnewstoday.com

healio.co

 

Blog written by Kimberly Rose

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