SAMSUN, Turkey 

Time-restricted eating such as fasting strengthens the body’s immune system, which provides a first line of defense against the novel coronavirus, a medical expert said Monday. 

Dr. Yusuf Uzun, an internal medicine and gastroenterologist specialist, told Anadolu Agency that having a strong immune system is the most important protective factor against COVID-19 apart from measures such as wearing a mask, washing one’s hands and practicing social distancing.

Uzun underlined that hunger triggers autophagy or “protective cell care” in healthy people who do not have any additional diseases that preclude fasting.

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer, healthier ones.

Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for uncovering the key mechanisms of autophagy.

Ohsumi “has shown that time-restricted eating has an effect on cell renewal and slowing aging in the body. Therefore, at the end of a 10-15 hour period of hunger because of fasting, the immune system cells regain a stronger, vital physiological balance and rejuvenate by refreshing and show a more resistant and protective effect against cancer and infections,” Uzun said.

“Although further studies are needed on this subject, it has been understood that the cells in the body are rejuvenated by renewing and strengthened in intraday hunger because of fasting.”

He also underlined the importance of regular sleep and a balanced diet in order to strengthen the immune system.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

Copyright 2020 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.