Information about intermittent fasting is everywhere. It’s a great way of improving your immune system, among other health benefits. Now new research has emerged about the benefits of intermittent fasting contra covid 19.
If you’ve read about or already practice any form of intermittent fasting, you’ll be aware of its multiple heath benefits.
Chief among these are its positive effects on the immune system.
A five-day fast can completely reset your immune system. I can hardly think of a better time to be thinking of doing this.
Indeed, it was one of the first things I did when it became knowm that we were all facing a pandemic.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that intermittent fasting can be a cure for covid 19, nor any other virus for that matter.
What I’m saying here is this: By fasting you will be putting your immune system in the best possible place to help you fight off a virus. At the very least, you will be minimizing your chances of suffering badly with a virus.
By resetting your immune system you will be much more able to fight covid 19; there is also a greater chance that covid will not gain a hold in your body at all.
The science of intermittent fasting as a tool contra covid 19
In July 2020 this research emerged that suggests that there is an interplay between intermittent fasting, autophagy and SARS-COV-2 infection, which is the causative pathogen of serious Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).
For those of you not familiar with Autophagy: ( if you already know about autophagy you can skip this part)
Autophagy and the immune system are now known to be linked; the immune system uses Autophagy to regulate many of its systems.
Further, Autophagy is involved in seeking out pathogens, and has a role in the fields of vaccines and aging 1
Autophagy has been reported to modulate immune system components, mainly containing natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, dendritic cells (DCs), and T and B lymphocytes.
It has an influence on their homeostasis, survival, activation, proliferation, and differentiation, which represent innate and adaptive immune responses.
Meanwhile, it also influences the release of cytokines and antibodies.
Autophagy also acts as an immune effector that mediates pathogen clearance.
The authors of the study point out that the development of drugs to manage the disease is still ongoing. Strengthening your immune system and leading a health lifestyle is an important way of minimizing your chances of dying from covid 19.
It has been known for some time that intermittent fasting triggers autophagy, and this in turn can repair and reset the immune system.
An important fact when it’s now known that a compromised immune system dramatically increases your chances of covid 19 becoming fatal.
Autophagy and the immune system
Autophagy is triggered by the absence of nutrients. When you deliberately stop eating, you will trigger an adaptive cellular stress responses that prime host defense to confront with upcoming severe stress and counteract pathogenesis .
In this way, Intermittent fasting can positively effect the immune system by activating the process of autophagy.
This process will prime your system to cope better with any upcoming stress. Including covid 19 should you be unlucky enough to come into contact with it.
In an older study, (Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy) Mehrdad Alirezaei et al. found:
Short-term food restriction may represent an attractive alternative to the prophylaxis and treatment of diseases in which candidate drugs are currently being sought.”
However, the 2020 study did offer a word of warning for people with pre-existing conditions:
Fasting may not be appropriate for people who already have some health issues.
Indeed, fasting is not for everyone. It is certainly a method that becomes easier with practice; if you have not fasted before you should consider easing into this by starting with short fasts such as 12 or 18 hour fasts.
It becomes a lot easier to fast once your body is used to shorter fasts.
As you adapt to fasting you will be able to readily swap to your secondary metabolic pathway; burning fat for fuel.
In other words, you can easily make up for the lack of food by utilizing your stored body fat supplies. In this way, you will be continuing to supply your body with all the energy it needs during a short fast.
Additionally, it would not be wise to start a fast once you already have covid 19 ( or any other virus) .
Once infected, you will need good levels of nutrition to deal the virus that you already have.
Intermittent fasting is a preventative measure only.
Consider extra vitamins during your fast
The study suggests that you further boost your immune system by the addition of some vitamins and minerals which are known to help with fighting infection.
They suggest that while fasting, care should be taken to ensure an adequate amount of essential micro nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. These help boost up the immunity and anti-stress mechanisms.
You should also take care of your electrolytes. Those of you who follow the keto diet will already be familiar with this as a potential issue.
Basically, fasting causes you to use your fat for fuel; as fat cells contain water, you will be flushing a lot of fluids through your system. This can cause your electrolytes to become unbalanced.
The three most important electrolytes are Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium.
These are responsible for many of the symptoms which make up the suffering called Keto “flu”. It’s worth spending a little time to learn about electrolytes and the symptoms of unbalanced electrolytes.
In this way you will be able to deal with the problem if it becomes an issue for you.
Thankfully, this is fairly easy to follow and is relatively straightforward to deal with. If you’d like to know more, read here.
Intermittent fasting has multiple heath benefits. It has been known for some time that a fast can improve or reset the immune system.
Intermittent fasting triggers autophagy, which is the body’s natural cleansing and repair program.
Autophagy and the immune system are now known to be linked. The immune system uses Autophagy to regulate many of its systems. Autophagy is involved in seeking out pathogens, and has a role in the fields of vaccines and aging. Read here
According to this study, fasting can be an important tool to help you to avoid or keep safe from covid 19.
The authors also suggest following some other health benefits practices while you fast.
Further, they suggest exercise, vitamin supplementation and meditation.
Indeed, it’s worth considering any practice that is normally followed as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The most important ones are:
Eat a low carb diet, or a keto diet
Practice intermittent fasting
Exercise, especially resistance training
Spend time with Friends
Spend time outside in the sun
All of these interventions will help improve immunity are also highly recommended. For further reading see: