Researchers at MIT discovered a couple of years ago that fasting for 24 hours triggers a metabolic shift in mice, causing their intestines to improve their intestinal stem cells .
Intestinal stem cells are a small group of passive stem cells that are activated when necessary and have the power to generate all cell types in the intestine, and as people age, this function begins to decline, which can lead to a more inefficient stomach that, among other things, makes us gain weight with age.
The intestine has a high rate of cell regeneration due to the wear it suffers in the performance of the functions of degradation and absorption of nutrients and evacuation of unnecessary remains. Broadly speaking, the entire cell population is renewed once a week . That is why in the organ there is a large volume of constantly dividing stem cells that give rise to various cell types that make up the intestine.
The researchers found that fasting for just one day caused intestinal cell regeneration to double . While the test has yet to be done in humans, the biology behind these stem cells is not much different from ours.
The experiment, carried out in young and adult mice, allowed the researchers to see how, in the fasted state, cells break down fatty acids instead of glucose, which would make stem cells, the source of all new cells, become more regenerative . Reducing the calories in the diet has beneficial effects on the health of the body, so a 24-hour fast would enhance this effect.
People with diabetes or metabolic diseases should definitely consult a doctor before trying such an extreme diet. It’s not for everyone, but the results achieved by fasting appear to mimic cellular autophagy, or the ‘cellular cleansing’ of damaged cells. In addition, the evidence of intermittent fasting, although increasing, is not yet complete and contraindications also appear : if you want to carry out a fast, many factors related to lifestyle have to be taken into account, such as patterns quality of diet, physical activity and hours of sleep. In no case can it be recommended in isolation without addressing these issues