Fasting and Sickness: Should I Fast to Fight a Virus?

By Fastwell | Fasting, Programs | Autophagy, Bacterial, Covid19, Electrolytes, FastHappy, Fasting, Immune System, Ketones, Micronutrients, Viral

The answer might surprise you! 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which actually would be really helpful right now) you are aware that there is a nasty virus called, Coronavirus or COVID-19, quickly spreading around the world.  We have been asking ourselves “so what do I need to do”.  Some people have been stocking up on some essentials (um, like toilet paper apparently). Students are being sent home from school. And, hopefully many are coming up with plans to stay healthy and safe.

We’ve been hearing all sorts of recommendations, including from the Center of Disease Control to follow to reduce our risk of contracting the virus.  Hand-washing and social distancing, in the spotlight!

But, there’s very little talk about fasting during this virus pandemic.

Should I be fasting during the COVID19 outbreak? 

Yes and No. Let’s dig in….

YES, to help prevent you from getting sick!

Fasting when you are not fighting a virus helps strengthen your immune system by causing autophagy, which is the regeneration of cells.

A prolonged fast can be beneficial in “resetting” the immune system and shorter length fasts, such as Intermittent Fasting, supports strong immune functions.

In a 2014 study, Valter Longo and colleagues at USC found that fasting lowered white blood cell counts, which in turn triggered the immune system to start producing new white blood cells. White blood cells (or lymphocytes) are a key component of your body’s immune system. Once you start eating again, according to Longo, your stem cells kick back into high gear to replenish the cells that were recycled.

New to fasting? First you might want to choose a fasting program and  find a support group.  We also recommend starting slow and listen to your body!  When you start to feel foggy or a headache, sometimes electrolytes can help you complete your fasting goals.

No, don’t fast when you have a virus!

What!? Fasting isn’t always the answer!?!  No, it’s not.  Our bodies are really quite incredible and here’s another reason why.

In a Yale study, mice infected with a bacteria and virus, were put through fasting and feeding states.  The findings were intriguing!

Simply put…

For bacterial infections: cells need ketones to fight the infection.

During viral infections: cells need glucose to properly respond and kill the virus.  

This short video is a summary of the test.

So, if you’re hit with a virus, such as the cold or influenza (respiratory or gastro), you’re better off listening to your appetite and feeding your body plenty of micro-nutrients and nutrient dense foods.

Some Key Micronutrients to fight a virus include:

  • Vitamin C:  3000 mg daily, in divided dosages
  • Vitamin D3: 2000 IUs daily (Start with 5000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2000 IU
  • Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate, or chloride form)
  • Zinc: 20 mg daily
  • Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily

In addition to a variety of simple whole foods, here are some of our favorite foods that are great for staying nourished:

These foods are all great, every day options to keep your body strong enough to stay well in the first place.  But, it’s inevitable that even the healthiest bodies can get sick from time to time.

In general, you should listen to your body’s cues when you’re sick.  If you’re craving some sort of food – it’s likely your body’s way of asking for proper nutrition to fight a bug. 

What else?

Someday, we go even deeper into to building a strong immune system but let’s not forget some other key factors we could all start being aware of now to help keep us well:

  • Get better deeper sleep
  • Decrease stress, through awareness and meditation for example
  • Physically rest on occasion

As always, our team truly does hope that you stay healthy!  In this time particular, practice social distancing, and common sense hygiene so that this pandemic passes quickly, life can resume, and we all can come out of this much stronger!


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