MEDICAL NEWS TODAY – Breakfast is popularly known as “the most important meal of the day”, but scientific research into the health effects of skipping breakfast remains inconclusive.
Confusingly, a large number of studies have found that regular daytime fasting — such as limiting meals to a narrow window of time or “time-restricted feeding” — has several health benefits.
For example, studies show that fasting and calorie restriction are linked to reduced risk of age-related illnesses, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, obesity, and diabetes.
But a new study in mice now suggests that fasting has a potential downside.
The research found that there was a rapid reduction in the number of circulating immune cells in animals that were not allowed to eat in the hours after they awoke.
“Our study provides a word of caution as it suggests that there may also be a cost to fasting that carries a health risk.”
“There is a growing awareness that fasting is healthy, and there is indeed abundant evidence for the benefits of fasting,” explains lead author Filip Swirski, Ph.D., director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NY.
“Our study provides a word of caution as it suggests that there may also be a cost to fasting that carries a health risk,” he adds.
The study has been published in ImmunityTrusted Source.
How fasting affects immune cells
Mice are nocturnal, which means they are inactive during the day and forage for food at night.
The researchers compared mice that could eat whenever they wanted with mice that had no access to food in the hours after they became active.
After just four hours, the scientists recorded a 90% decrease in the numbers of monocytes — a type of immune cell — in the bloodstream of the mice that fasted.
Bone marrow generates monocytes, which normally patrol the body in search of pathogens. The cells also play a role in inflammation and tissue repair …