A new mouse study, published in Immunity, suggests that skipping breakfast and fasting may affect the immune system, as the research team detected a rapid reduction in the number of circulating immune cells in rodents that were not allowed to eat in the hours after they awoke.
In the current study, the researchers compared mice that could eat at any time with mice that had no free access to food in the hours after they became active. After four hours, the team recorded a 90% decrease in the number of monocytes in the bloodstream of the mice that fasted.
On the next step of the experiment, after a 24-hour fast followed by 4 hours of feeding, the researchers infected the mice with a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common cause of pneumonia in hospitals. Compared with mice that had free access to food throughout, the mice that fasted died sooner and in larger numbers, apparently as a result of increased inflammation in their lungs.