How does fasting affect stem cells?

Louis A. Cona, MD
Sep 5, 2022
min read

Although it has been long known that a lower caloric diet contributes to longevity in humans, it is now understood that fasting can switch the metabolism from using glucose as fuel to using fatty acids. This shift seems to trigger our stem cells to become more active and regenerative.

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Prolonged fasting can trigger stem cell regeneration

Prolonged fasting between 48–120 hours can activate pathways that enhance cellular resistance to toxins and stress in mice and humans. (1)

A 2014 study found that prolonged fasting between 48–120 hours can activate pathways that enhance cellular resistance to toxins and stress in mice and humans. The study also found that fasting may also be linked to increased immune system regulation. (1)

The study conducted by Chang et al. states that:

"Multiple cycles of fasting decreased the immunosuppression and mortality caused by chemotherapy, and reversed age-dependent myeloid-bias (cell regeneration deficiencies) in mice, in agreement with preliminary data on the protection of white blood cells from chemotoxicity in fasting patients." (1)

What is fasting? 

Fasting involves refraining from eating for an extended amount of time. Typically, to see any cellular benefits, one must fast for a minimum of 24 - 48 hours. During a fasting period, a person should not consume any calories but may continuously drink water, caffeine-free coffee, or tea to remain hydrated.   One should always consult their doctor before starting a fasting program.

Fasting for stem cell production

Another study conducted by researchers at MIT revealed that stem cells drastically increased their rate of regeneration when the subject was in a "fasted state." More specifically, stem cells extracted after the fasting period and cultured showed a double in their regenerative capacity, meaning the stem cells could proliferate into higher numbers with greater efficiency.  This discovery was found in both aged and young subjects equally. These results were recorded after a fasting period of only 24 hours.

For many decades, scientists have known that low caloric intake is linked with enhanced longevity in humans and other organisms. The researchers at MIT were interested in exploring how fasting exerts its effects at the molecular level, specifically in the intestine. 

By applying these findings to cellular therapy protocols, patients can drastically increase the potential benefit.  

"DVC Stem recommends that patients fast before treatment in order to place their bodies in a prime state to receive an influx of mesenchymal stem cells during therapy.  The patient's lifestyle can have a significant impact on the efficacy of stem cell treatments."

The role nutrition plays in inflammation

The role of nutrition in stem cell treatment lies with inflammation. Most human diseases are caused, in one form or another, by inflammation in the body. By altering diet and nutrition, patients may be able to naturally reduce inflammation in the body, allowing their naturally occurring or transplanted stem cells to operate normally without restriction. More specifically, three anti-inflammatory antioxidants, ECGC (found in green tea), Curcumin (found in turmeric), and Sulforaphane (found in broccoli), are particularly useful. These specific compounds have shown to inhibit T-cell response in the body, the white blood cells that cause some autoimmune disorders. A recent study conducted by Colorado-based stem cell lab, Vitro Biopharma Inc, quantified the effectiveness of these compounds on stem cell activation. The study showed a stem cell response of over 25 times that of stem cells not given the compounds. (3)

Stem cell "fast" facts

We all have stem cells in our bodies from birth, working continuously to find inflammation, damage, and diseased tissues to repair. Stem cells reproduce in the body, but they also age as we age, becoming less effective with each new generation of cells. Over time, stem cell numbers decrease, and their potency eventually wears off, this is the normal aging process for all humans. However, there are ways to both promote and deter the stem cells in the body based on one's diet and living habits.

It is recommended that stem cell patients follow an anti-inflammatory diet and limit the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine before treatment.  

Why are patients asked to fast before receiving stem cells?

At DVC Stem, a 5-day pre-treatment liquid fast is part of our IRB-approved protocol. It is designed to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and prepare the body to receive the cell transplant in the best possible state.  

DVC Stem is a fully licensed stem cell therapy clinic regulated by the Cayman Islands government. As a British Overseas Territory, healthcare regulations are stringent, on par with the U.S., U.K., and E.U. Additionally, our entire medical staff is fully registered and licensed, and our stem cell protocols are IRB reviewed and approved by a board in the United States. 

With the ever-increasing popularity of alternative and natural remedies to harmful conditions, stem cell therapies have become increasingly sought after by the wellness community. However, Regenerative Medicine, or the use of stem cells to treat conditions, remains a relatively new field, advancing more each year.

How to increase natural stem cell production

Prospective patients have a wide range of questions concerning what stem cells are, where they come from, and how they function. Although modern stem cell therapy seeks to supplement additional stem cells, we all have a supply of them already functioning in our bodies. Research has shown multiple methods to take full advantage of our stem cells and make them work more efficiently to heal our bodies. The main strategies to unlock the full potential of our stem cells are fasting and proper nutrition. 

Although it has been long known that a lower caloric diet contributes to longevity in humans, it is now understood that fasting can switch the metabolism from using glucose as fuel to using fatty acids. This shift seems to trigger our stem cells to become more active and regenerative. This concept has also become the basis for the now popular Keto Diet.

So what are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells within the body that have not differentiated or become specific types of cells. They can travel around the body, seek damage and inflammation, and replace older cells, causing a regenerative effect on the tissue. Stem cells can be found in several locations throughout the body, including bone marrow, fat tissue, and even teeth. However, the number of stem cells we produce declines as we age, and the potency of our cells can also diminish over time. In our later years, to receive the same benefits as when we were younger, our stem cells must be supplemented or activated at higher levels.

DVC Stem

DVC Stem is a stem cell therapy pioneer, offering stem cell therapies for years and has become a cornerstone of the medical tourism industry. Located in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman in the Western Caribbean, we offer patients a nearby alternative to traveling long distances and to less ideal locations. Our protocols are IRB approved, and our cells come from regulated, U.S. based, FDA compliant laboratories. We seek to offer the highest quality products, the latest available treatments for a variety of conditions, all combined with a world-class setting and service. Contact us today to request additional information

Find out if you are eligible for stem cell therapy at DVC Stem


(1) Cheng, C., Adams, G., Perin, L., Wei, M., Zhou, X., Lam, B., . . . Longo, V. (2014, June 5). Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from

(2) Anne Trafton | MIT News Office. (n.d.). Fasting boosts stem cells' regenerative capacity. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from

(3) Tonrey, T., Musick, J., Ph. D, Dean, R., & Patel, K. (n.d.). Stem Cell Activation by Natural Products. Retrieved from

About the author

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director | DVC Stem

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

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