Intermittent Fasting Guide: Rebooting The Body & Reducing All Cause Mortality

Important Caveat On The Stigma Of Intermittent Fasting:

This this idea that fasting is a miserable uncomfortable experience can be explained through the majority of us being conditioned to regularly dosing our bodies with meals every couple of hours. Most people in the western world can say they’ve almost never been without food for more than 12-15 hours without food. With that being said we’ve been creating an anticipatory habit within our brain to expect a certain stimuli every x amount of hours. So what happens when we suddenly break this cycle, what are the symptoms:

Headache, hunger, lethargy, lack of focus, irritability, shaky etc.

What happens when you give up cigerates? 

Headache, hunger, lethargy, lack of focus, irritability, shaky etc.

What happens when you give up illicit drugs or alcohol?

Headache, hunger, lethargy, lack of focus, irritability, shaky etc.

We’re not saying food is addictive in that same way that drugs may be. The point being the body only knows to withdraw after a termination of regular dosing of stimuli. 

What the majority of people feel as ‘hunger’ really isn’t true hunger.

Benefits Of Fasting

There’s a lot of amazing dramatic repair processes that the body goes into once it’s in a fasted state. 

Reduction in Hemoglobin A1C (Glycated Hemoglobin)

Defined: A biomarker for the 3 month average plasma glucose concentration. In diabetes mellitus, higher amounts of glycated hemoglobin, indicating poorer control of blood glucose levels, have been associated with cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, and retinopathy.

Dramatic decrease in blood pressure.

Reduce the symptoms of eczema dramatically. “Fixed eczema completely” – Ray Cronise

It’s been shown when you fast it is a mild stress on the body which causes massive changes in gene expression. Many genes that are involved with dealing, and repairing damage are increased. The act of prolonged fasting as the effects of metabolically cleaning house. In essence going in and saying ‘here’s a dysfunctional cell – I need these resources’.

Which is REALLY IMPORTANT considering those dysfunctional cells are often senescent. Which means the cell is not metabolically alive or dead, but instead sitting around secreting inflammatory cytokines which in turn is damaging neighboring healthy cells. So if you can do something to get rid of those poisonous cells than you better do it – intermittent fasting has been shown to do it.


“Used to get rid of damaged cells through a process by which the cell degrades its components, including organelles and proteins. This mechanism is also thought to help protect against cancer and even aging by reducing the burden of abnormal cells. During fasting cellular autophagy is enhanced in order to provide energy for surviving cells.”

The question becomes than, what’s the minimal time I need to get the autophagy benefits to rid these damaged cells?

I don’t believe there is much concrete evidence on this question but Valter Longo, Ph.D, research at UCLA has shown that it takes 48 hours of internment fasting to activate the autophagy in mice. Whether that’s applicable to humans we don’t know yet.

 Triage Theory

Addressing the question of micronutrient deficiencies.

Theory proposed by Dr. Bruce Ames which proposes that when the body is deficient in a micronutrient it will allocate its scarce supply to enzymes necessary for short-term survival and reproduction at the cost of long-term survival enzymes. This may result in the acceleration of the aging process.  

Application To Cancer Treatment

Fasting, among other thing’s can, sensitize cancer cells to the effects of treatments like chemotherapy while also increasing the resilience of normal cells.

Anecdote: Tim Ferriss’ friend (who he keeps confidential) fasted for 3 days prior to his cancer treatments. While the rest of his cohort were laid out in bed for a day he was out running the next  day. That could have been placebo, but there’s enough data to support the benefits that fasting has on ‘autophogy’ and cell cleaning. By the age of 40 most people have pre-cancerous cells in their body, which is not a problem in of itself if they don’t grow out of control but extended fasting (3-5+ days) can help purge those cells that could potentially metastasize and become a problem.

[Source: Tim Ferriss Podcast] [16:51]

Breast Cancer Recurrence Reduction & Fasting

Ruth Patterson, Ph.D. has helped conduct a study that stated at least 13 hours of fasting was associated with a lower breast cancer recurrence.

About 2500 breast cancer survives completed approximately 7.5 years of follow up food records. They analysed the time’s they ate, when they stopped, how long their fasting intervals were, how much they ate at night etc. That’s when they found the cut point of 13 hours of fast reduced their risk of breast cancer recurrence by about 40%. It also reduced the risk of mortality by about 20%, however that finding was not statically significant but it was trending in the same direction that it is possible.

E.G. Fasting from 8PM in the evening until 9AM.

As far as inflammation reduction, they only found it reduced inflammation among woman who didn’t eat a lot of food late at night. In other words if your fasting interval was 9PM – 9AM, it didn’t seem to matter. But if your fasting interval was earlier like 7PM – 7AM than it seemed like the fasting interval reduced C-reactive protein (CRP) – which is the measure of generalized inflammation. (Source)

“It’s not just the 12-13 hours, it’s only if they start early in the evening. That’s when the positive effects happen” – Ruth Patterson, Ph.D.

(Marinac, C et al. (2016) Pronlonged nightly fasting and breast cancer prognoses. JAMA Oncol).

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration of Damaged, old immune system

The first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study in the June 5 issue of the Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial involving patients receiving chemotherapy, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.

The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as people age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles — periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months — kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders.

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”

Fasting Cycles

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones, but it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. Longo likens the effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo.

During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. In particular, prolonged fasting reduced the enzyme PKA, an effect previously discovered by the Longo team to extend longevity in simple organisms and which has been linked in other research to the regulation of stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency — that is, the potential for one cell to develop into many different cell types. Prolonged fasting also lowered levels of IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone that Longo and others have linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer risk.

“PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

Prolonged fasting also protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial in which a small group of patients fasted for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy, extending Longo’s influential past research.

“While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. “More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”

“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” said Longo, whose lab is in the process of conducting further research on controlled dietary interventions and stem cell regeneration in both animal and clinical studies.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers AG20642, AG025135, P01AG34906). The clinical trial was supported by the V Foundation and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (P30CA014089).

Chia Wei-Cheng of USC Davis was first author of the study. Gregor Adams, Xiaoying Zhou and Ben Lam of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC; Laura Perin and Stefano Da Sacco of the Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Min Wei of USC Davis; Mario Mirisola of the University of Palermo; Dorff and David Quinn of the Keck School of Medicine of USC; and John Kopchick of Ohio University were co-authors of the study.


Here’s how a five-day diet that mimics fasting may ‘reboot’ the body and reduce cancer risk

Scientists say they’ve developed a five-day, once-a-month diet that mimics fasting — and is safe.

In the study, which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism and funded by the National Institute on Aging, participants who intermittently fasted for three months had reduced risk factors for an amazing range of issues: aging, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. While the number of study participants was small — only 19 who tried the diet — the results are so promising that the University of Southern California researcher who helped develop the regimen is already talking about trying to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration so that it can be recommended for patients.

Co-author Valter D. Longo, who studies longevity, described the idea behind fasting as a way to “reboot” a person’s body by clearing out damaged cells and regenerating new ones.

“It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it …” he said. “It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.”

The diet described in the study — which the researchers dubbed the “Fasting Mimicking Diet” — isn’t quite as extreme as actual fasting. It works like this:

For 25 days out of the month, dieters can eat as they normally would — the good, bad and in-between. Then for day one of the diet, they would eat 1,090 calories: 10 percent protein, 56 percent fat and 34 percent carbohydrates. For days two through five, 725 calories: 9 percent protein, 44 percent fat, 47 percent carbohydrates.

In the study, participants consumed a lot of vegetable soup, kale crackers and chamomile tea. The calories consumed are 54 to 34 percent of what a typical person might eat in a day.

The participants in the study did this for three cycles or three months before the researchers measured them and found decreased risk factors and biomarkers for disease with no major adverse side effects.

“It supplies most of the carbohydrates in the form of vegetables which are packed with phytonutrients and minerals and positively good for us, rather than grain-derived carbohydrates which don’t supply much except sugar,” she said.

Written By Ariana Eunjung Cha