Fasting has long-held associations with mental and bodily repair, from religion asceticism to detox diets. A new study points to one reason fasting may be good for our bodies, with evidence that a 24-hour gap in eating can flick a metabolic switch for regeneration in our digestive system.
By studying the effects of fasting on mice, a team of researchers at MIT found that just one day of calorie restriction substantially improves the ability for stem cells in the intestine to regenerate. Not only does this underline the beneficial effects of short periods of fasting, but it could also pave the way for drugs that stimulate the effects in cancer patients. As we get older, our intestinal cells get worse at regenerating, meaning our bodies are less able to fight off infections and diseases in our gut. In the fasting mice, however, cells began to break down fatty acids instead of glucose. This stimulated the stem cells to become more regenerative.
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