Fasting for Health…and Fertility?
Recent studies from the Journal Cell (Stem Cells) demonstrate that fasting can be beneficial to overall health. Could fasting also be food for preconception care or TTC (trying to conceive?) Or what about during an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) cycle? Fasting may be good for our health, but only when it’s appropriate.
Fasting may protect against immune system damage as well as induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal, flipping the switch on regeneration. One of the mechanisms involved shows that fasting changes the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.
Fasting usually involves not eating food for 2-4 days, including not having pureed food like smoothies and juices. The study has major implications for healthier aging, patients who have cancer and may be undergoing chemotherapy, and and those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders.
When you reduce calories, and eventually starve, your body tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed in that moment, especially those that may be damaged. Researchers also noticed that white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you resume normal caloric intake and eat again, the blood cells come back.
How could this help fertility? Starving yourself while you are trying to get pregnant is not necessarily a good idea. If you are pregnant, this is dangerous. if you are actively trying to conceive, whether trying naturally or using ART and are doing an IVF cycle, your body will pull from other areas of your body for what it needs to conceive and you will become unhealthy, ultimately not conceiving. The body perceives not eating as a stress. When you are stressed, the body shuts down reproduction and other functions that are not necessary to survive in that moment.
Although fasting while you are trying to conceive is not necessarily a good idea, especially if you have certain health issues, fasting for a short period long before you are actively trying to get pregnant may potentially be good for you, especially if you have several months or years before you plan on getting pregnant or doing an IVF, and especially if you have a diagnosed auto-immune disorder, such as a thyroid imbalance, gut disorder or inflammatory disease.
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