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How Does Fasting Affect Stem Cells?

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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How Does Fasting Affect Stem Cells?

Louis A. Cona, MD
Updated on
Nov 21, 2023

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, ranging from 48 to 120 hours, has been shown to activate pathways that increase cellular resistance to toxins and stress, potentially enhancing stem cell regeneration in both mice and humans.

This intriguing connection between fasting and stem cell activity, backed by scientific studies, suggests a promising avenue for enhancing immune system regulation and cellular rejuvenation.

Fasting and Stem Cells

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)

A 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.  


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The Concept of Autophagy

Autophagy, a crucial cellular process for maintaining cell functions and adapting to stress, is central to the concept of a 7-day fast. This fasting method aims to induce autophagy by shifting the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of glucose. The metabolic change is believed to initiate the autophagy process.

Research on Cell Repair and Regeneration

Various studies provide insights into cell repair and regeneration, though they primarily focus on specific treatments or conditions such as laser irradiation, probiotics, and certain drugs for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). These studies, while not directly addressing a 7-day fast, offer valuable context for understanding cell repair mechanisms under different conditions.

Fasting Duration and Individual Variability

The effectiveness of fasting in promoting autophagy and enhancing cell repair varies greatly depending on individual circumstances. The specific duration of fasting required to achieve these benefits is not one-size-fits-all. Additionally, prolonged fasting should be undertaken carefully, under medical supervision, particularly for individuals with specific health conditions or nutritional needs.

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.  

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How to increase natural stem cell production

Learn how to regenerate cells faster - it 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.


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. 

Supplements to increase stem cell production

There is limited scientific evidence to support the use of supplements to increase stem cell production in the body. Some supplements that have been proposed for this purpose include:

  1. Resveratrol: This polyphenol, found in grapes, wine, and some plants, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may stimulate the production of stem cells in the bone marrow.
  2. Coenzyme Q10: This nutrient is involved in energy production in the body and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have suggested that it may stimulate the production of stem cells in the bone marrow.
  3. Curcumin: This compound, found in the spice turmeric, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may stimulate the production of stem cells in the bone marrow.
  4. Quercetin: This plant flavonoid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may stimulate the production of stem cells in the bone marrow.
  5. Vitamin D: This nutrient, which is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, has been shown to stimulate the production of stem cells in the bone marrow.

It is important to note that the use of supplements should be approached with caution, as they can interact with medications and may have side effects. If you are considering the use of supplements to increase stem cell production, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider and to carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits.

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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. Find out if you are a candidate for stem cell therapy here

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long to Fast for Cell Regeneration?

Some studies suggest that prolonged fasting (for two or more days) can trigger stem cell regeneration in the immune system. This process is thought to occur as the body tries to save energy during periods of fasting by recycling immune cells, particularly those that may be damaged or old.

This recycling process prompts the stem cells to regenerate and effectively renew the immune system. However, the exact duration of fasting required can vary depending on individual health conditions and should only be undertaken under medical supervision.

How to Increase Stem Cells?

To increase or activate stem cells in the human body, you can consider the following approaches:

  1. Diet and nutrition: Consuming a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can support stem cell production. Foods like blueberries, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts are beneficial for stem cell health.
  2. Exercise: Regular physical activity, particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been shown to increase the production of stem cells in the body.
  3. Intermittent fasting: Short-term fasting can stimulate the production of new stem cells, as it activates a process called autophagy, which helps to remove damaged cells and promote cellular regeneration.
  4. Supplements: Some supplements, such as resveratrol, curcumin, and spirulina, have been shown to support stem cell function and proliferation.
  5. Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for overall health, including stem cell production. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support stem cell regeneration.
  6. Stress reduction: Chronic stress can negatively impact stem cell function. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help maintain healthy stem cell levels.
  7. Medical treatments: In some cases, medical interventions like stem cell therapy or bone marrow transplantation may be used to increase stem cell levels in the body. These treatments should only be considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

How Long to Fast for Autophagy?

The exact duration of fasting required to induce autophagy, a cellular process of self-cleaning and recycling, is not definitively established in scientific literature. However, some studies suggest that autophagy processes may begin to increase after 24 hours of fasting, with significant increases observed after 48 hours.

It's important to note that the onset and degree of autophagy can vary greatly depending on individual metabolic factors, overall health, and lifestyle habits such as exercise.

How to Get Rid of Zombie Cells Naturally

To get rid of zombie cells, or senescent cells, naturally, you can adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. Here are some strategies to help eliminate senescent cells:

  1. Fasting and calorie restriction: Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction have been shown to promote autophagy, a cellular process that helps clear out damaged cells, including senescent cells.
  2. Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce inflammation and promote the removal of senescent cells. Studies have shown that exercise can improve the function of the immune system, which plays a role in clearing senescent cells.
  3. Anti-inflammatory diet: Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system in clearing senescent cells. Foods high in antioxidants, like berries, leafy greens, and nuts, can also help combat oxidative stress, which contributes to cellular aging.
  4. Sleep: Prioritizing quality sleep is essential for overall health and can help reduce the accumulation of senescent cells. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased inflammation and cellular aging.
  5. Stress management: Chronic stress can contribute to cellular aging and the accumulation of senescent cells. Practicing stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, can help mitigate the negative effects of stress on the body.
  6. Natural compounds: Some natural compounds, such as quercetin (found in apples, onions, and berries), fisetin (found in strawberries, apples, and grapes), and curcumin (found in turmeric), have been shown to have senolytic properties, meaning they can help eliminate senescent cells.

While these strategies can help promote the natural elimination of senescent cells, it's important to note that the effectiveness of these approaches may vary among individuals. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

References:

(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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4102383/

(2) Anne Trafton | MIT News Office. (n.d.). Fasting boosts stem cells' regenerative capacity. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://news.mit.edu/2018/fasting-boosts-stem-cells-regenerative-capacity-0503

(3) Tonrey, T., Musick, J., Ph. D, Dean, R., & Patel, K. (n.d.). Stem Cell Activation by Natural Products. Retrieved from https://vitrobiopharma.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Stem-cell-activation-by-natural-substances-white-paper-1.pdf

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