Fasting’s inflammation-fighting trigger may work like aspirin

By now, you’ve probably heard that fasting is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Just last year a first-of-its-kind study confirmed fasting slows the pace of human aging.

It’s also been tied to reducing the risks for any number of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

The secret to its success is how fasting works to put out the fires of inflammation…

Behind all these conditions is the chronic inflammation that sneaks up as we get older. In fact, a unifying theory of disease has developed that strongly suggests inflammation as the major contributing factor to disease and aging.

Yet, while we’ve been told that fasting has significant benefits, scientists were unsure exactly how restricting calories fought off inflammation, until now…

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Setting off alarms that trigger inflammation

While inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection, the process can be triggered by other mechanisms, especially an inflammasome, known as the NLRP3 inflammasome.

It acts like an alarm in all of your body’s cells that triggers an inflammation cascade when it detects damage that needs to be fixed. And while that is actually a healthy process, not all is rosy.

In fact, the inflammasome can stoke the fires of inflammation in unintentional ways — triggering the destruction of cells and releasing the contents of those cells into the body.

And that’s when chronic inflammation becomes a real problem.

According to researchers at Cambridge University, that’s the reason that the NLRP3 inflammasome has been linked to major diseases, including obesity, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Managing false alarms

To determine if fasting could be a pathway to reducing the action of that dangerous inflammasome, the scientists studied blood samples from a group of 21 volunteers, who ate a 500kcal meal and then fasted for 24 hours before consuming a second 500kcal meal. 

What they found is that fasting significantly raises the level of a lipid known as arachidonic acid.

It’s a vital molecule that helps your body with several important processes, such as storing energy and transmitting information between cells.

When the researchers pitted arachidonic acid against NLRP3 inflammasome in cell cultures, it turned down the activity of the inflammasome — which turned down inflammation.

This discovery may also offer clues to an unexpected way in which so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin work. Normally, arachidonic acid is rapidly broken down in the body, but aspirin stops this process, which can lead to an increase in levels of arachidonic acid, which in turn reduces inflammasome activity and hence inflammation.

But Professor Clare Bryant cautioned, “It’s important to stress that aspirin should not be taken to reduce risk of long terms diseases without medical guidance as it can have side-effects such as stomach bleeds if taken over a long period.”

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Which fast is right for you?

When asked about the results, Professor Bryant was very encouraged. “This provides a potential explanation for how changing our diet — in particular by fasting – protects us from inflammation, especially the damaging form that underpins many diseases related to a Western high-calorie diet,” she said.

The good news is there are several ways to fast, allowing you to tailor a regimen that fits your lifestyle. You can read about three different styles of fasting in this previous article I wrote. You can also follow a fast-mimicking diet, which may be easier to stick to.

But if fasting is just too daunting, my fellow contributor Virginia Tims Lawson provides these great tips to help tamp down daily inflammation threats:

  1. Control stress in your life. When stressed, your body enters a state of “fight or flight” and increases the production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). NF-kB encourages your genes to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  2. Eat inflammation-fighting foods. Emphasize organic produce and meats, lean protein, lots of vegetables, some brightly colored fruits, healthy fats, raw nuts and seeds, and unprocessed foods.
  3. Avoid inflammation-generating foods. That includes sugary foods, as well as trans fats, present in a variety of snack foods, fried foods, and baked goods.
  4. Try nutrients known to reduce inflammation: Turmeric, ginger, and black cumin seed oil have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation and have been used for thousands of years safely. Omega-3 supplements can also help cool chronic inflammation. The bioflavonoid quercetin and the antioxidant nutrients alpha-lipoic acidvitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D3 and selenium can similarly help reduce chronic inflammation.

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Scientists identify how fasting may protect against inflammation – EurekAlert!

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.