Fasting for Autoimmune Disease: Does it work?
What Is An Autoimmune Disease | Fasting & Resetting Immune System | Should You Try Intermittent Fasting For Autoimmune Diseases | what To Consider Before fasting for Autoimmune Diseases
The practice of fasting for autoimmune disease recovery and maintenance has been considered a natural way of detoxifying the body with many known health benefits. While fasting can be observed in different ways, intermittent fasting has emerged as one of the most common forms of fasting. It involves cycling between eating and fasting windows ranging from a few hours to a couple of days or more at a time.
Several fasting benefits are backed by science, be it weight loss, promoting metabolic health, or managing blood sugar levels. The modern lifestyle poses several health challenges for thousands of people with autoimmune diseases. While autoimmune diseases may not be completely cured, they can be better managed with specific dietary and lifestyle changes. If you are keen on exploring whether and how fasting can be used to treat autoimmune diseases, this article has you covered.
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
Before beginning to learn more about whether or not you should fast for autoimmune diseases, it is crucial to understand what an autoimmune disease is. A condition where your body’s natural immune system attacks healthy cells leads to an auto-immune disease.
There are more than 80 different types of auto-immune diseases that can impact various parts of your body. Studies indicate that autoimmune diseases are likely to result from interactions with various genetic and environmental factors. They are common among people who are in contact with certain environmental exposures.
So, can fasting help autoimmune disorders? Here’s more information on the correlation between fasting and autoimmune diseases.
How Fasting Works In Resetting Your Immune System?
The benefits of fasting are not unknown. From fighting inflammation and reducing insulin resistance to enhancing heart health, boosting brain function and preventing neurogenetic disorders, aiding weight loss to increase growth hormone secretion, and more, fasting can be helpful in multiple ways when appropriately observed.
When your body goes into a fasting mode, it switches over from glucose metabolism to ketone metabolism. When the glucose received by your body is utilized, the body starts using fatty acids and ketone bodies.
While ketone metabolism can benefit your health, the body must switch to it now and then. Continuous eating can lead the body to survive on glucose instead of making the switch. Fasting can clean some of the old immune cells and trigger the generation of new ones.
Now coming to whether or not you should be fasting for an autoimmune reset in your body, here’s what you need to know:
Some studies indicate that therapeutic fasting has been used to treat several chronic diseases, such as rheumatic pain, inflammation, and many other metabolic disorders. When the body goes fasting, it tries to conserve energy. The body usually recycles many immune cells that it doesn’t require.
In the process, it uses the stored glucose and fats to produce ketones that are healthy for the brain and keep you active while flushing out damaged cells and toxins your body doesn’t need.
Toxin consumption can attach to the body’s fats easily as opposed to when it is in a fasting mode. In the latter situation, the body automatically tends to relieve itself of the toxins.
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting For Autoimmune Diseases?
The relationship between intermittent fasting and autoimmune disease goes a long way. When you fast, your body gets adequate time to rest and recover since it is neither busy digesting food nor defending the inflammatory agents present in food. Hence, your body, especially the digestive system, is in a partial state of rest. This state helps treat and tame autoimmune diseases. Here’s how.
1. It Can Repair A Leaky Gut
Intermittent fasting can reduce your gut permeability. Studies indicate that a leaky gut can be a precursor to most autoimmune disorders. Sealing the mucosal lining of your intestines can mitigate the symptoms of autoimmune diseases, especially those triggered by external factors such as microbes, undigested food, and other toxins.
2. A Precursor To Autophagy
Fasting can induce autophagy which is essentially the body’s way of breaking down damaged cells and other unwanted plaques and debris while initiating the growth of healthy ones. The process of autophagy can increase your body’s ability to resist infections and pathogens that could be triggering autoimmune conditions.
3. Minimizing Inflammation
Inflammation is the culprit behind it all, be it any autoimmune disease or chronic illness. Intermittent fasting can lower the levels of systemic inflammation as well as minimize the pro-inflammatory cytokines like leptin present in your body, thus preventing it from escalating up on the autoimmune spectrum. Some studies revealed that patients with an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis experienced less inflammation and joint pain after a fasting diet.
4. Strengthens The Body’s Stress Response
Stress is a major trigger of autoimmune diseases. Studies indicate that intermittent fasting can modulate your body’s stress response. By triggering adaptive cellular stress response, fasting can act as a considerable way to help the body cope with severe stress.
5. Initiates Ketogenesis
Your body produces ketones when it is in a metabolic state. It is kickstarted by intermittent fasting. The stored fat in your body is burnt for fuel rather than glucose. If you have heard of Keto diets, it’s also important to know that such diet plans aren’t merely for weight loss but can also help treat certain health conditions. Ketosis can increase the body’s glutathione levels which work as the body’s natural detoxifier. People living with an autoimmune disease usually have very low levels of glutathione.
6. Improves Immune Response
Your gut microbiome plays a vital role in determining the strength of your immune system. Some studies show that fasting can positively impact your gut as it creates a favorable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria. A healthier gut with a diverse microbiome can strengthen your immune system.
As fasting improves immune cell regulation in the body, it can activate certain pathways that enhance your resistance to various toxins and stress. Hence, fasting can contribute to healthy blood and a healthy immune system, thus helping your body deal with autoimmune systems better.
Things To Consider Before Trying Intermittent Fasting for Autoimmune Diseases
Did you hear someone say, ‘fasting cured my autoimmune disease?’ Well, even if people around you vouch for certain practices, it is best to understand the process and weigh the pros and cons before embarking on a fasting journey.
Evaluate Your Health Conditions
Intermittent fasting has proven to offer health benefits, although it is essential to note that it isn’t for everyone. Whether fasting for autoimmune disease can address your issues or not depends on a plethora of factors.
For women dealing with hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, or thyroid issues, intermittent fasting may not be the best option, as fasting can throw your hormones out of balance. In extreme situations, hormonal disturbances can also impact your menstrual cycle and sleep patterns. As fasting triggers ketosis, it can strain your adrenal glands, especially if you have already been battling one of those health conditions.
If fasting for the first time, it is better to take it slow. Doing longer fasts may seem difficult, leading to cravings and could cause fatigue as well. On the other hand, shorter-duration fasts may not seem as difficult. Moreover, drink plenty of water and other unsweetened liquids during a fast to stay hydrated. You can also start with partial fasting, where you restrict several key food groups and reduce your overall calorie intake.
Do not Overeat
As you are fasting for all the good reasons, overeating during the eating window and thinking that you are fasting might defeat the purpose. Try fixing a calorie number and stick to it to save yourself from gastrointestinal problems. It would be best never to break your fast with a carbohydrate-loaded diet. You can introduce light meals to your body slowly and help the body achieve a gradual transition.
Before fasting for autoimmune disease management, listen to your body and find out what works for you. Everybody is different, and there isn’t one formula that suits everyone.
While intermittent fasting can be beneficial for autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses in many ways, it’s best to avoid it if it doesn’t go well with your system. After all, plenty of other ways can be used to balance blood sugar or reduce your disease risk.
The frequency of fasting required to achieve your health goals depends on a number of factors, such as the type of fasting chosen, your body type, the autoimmune disease, or other health conditions you are facing. You can always check with your health professional for viable options and regulate your diet or fitness plans for minor tweaks as required.
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I recommend starting here to learn more about these types of fasting which are the MOST popular, starting with 16/8 Fasting, click on these guides below to learn more:
16/8 Fasting Guide, 14/10 Fasting Guide, 18/6 Fasting Guide, One Meal a Day Guide.
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