Fasting Keeps Intestine Young

Benefits of fasting have been talked about a lot nowadays, mainly as a way to lose weight and keep fit. Recently, an interesting study on mice conducted by MIT biologists shows that fasting can actually keep the intestine young by activating the regeneration of intestine stem cells.

The intestinal stem cells are the source of new intestinal cells by regeneration. They typically renews themselves every five days. When infection or injury occurs, the intestinal stem cells are the key to repairing any damage.  As people age, the intestinal stem cells gradually lose the ability to regenerate, that’s why old people can’ recover from gastrointestinal infections as quickly as they were younger. However, the study from MIT biologists on mice showed that a simple 24-hour fasting can reverse the weakened stem cell function, the effect showed in the study is dramatically obvious.

In fasting mice, cells begin to break down fatty acids instead of glucose, this change stimulates the intestine stem cells to be more regenerative. This is helpful with the recovery of intestine from gastrointestinal infection and even chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, said “this study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat,” Sabatini says. “Interestingly, switching these cells to fatty acid oxidation enhanced their function significantly. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway may provide a therapeutic opportunity to improve tissue homeostasis in age-associated pathologies.”

For many decades, scientists have known that low calories intake is linked to enhanced longevity in human. This study might uncover the tip of the iceberg.



* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.