Researchers at the University of Southern California studied humans, as well as mice, who went without food for two to four days at a time over a six-month period.
That fasting triggered their bodies to get rid of old, inefficient cells and regenerate new, healthy ones.
This could make fasting a key to aging well because as we get older, our immune system weakens, making us vulnerable to illness.
Fasting could also benefit people going through chemotherapy or those suffering from autoimmune disorders.
Fasting reduces the enzyme PKA, clearing the way for stem cells to renew and lowering levels of the IGF-1 growth hormone, which is linked to cancer.
One of the study’s authors compared fasting to removing excess baggage from a plane.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy,” Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute, explained.
“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,” he said.
So what’s good for our spiritual health also appears to be good for our physical health.