What is Autophagy
and How Can it Change Your Life?
Autophagy, also referred to as ‘self-eating’, is a process by which cells eat, or recycle, their own internal dysfunctional components.
The initial thought of a cell devouring itself sounds like a bad thing, but dig a little deeper and you will discover why autophagy is so important…
Autophagy serves many functions and offers many benefits, beginning by eliminating subcellular debris and removing the ‘garbage’ from our systems.
“We aren’t getting any younger,
and our cells aren’t either.”
Consider the process of autophagy as ‘survival of the fittest’, the stronger cells work to consume the weak, causing our bodies to perform at their best.
During autophagy, we have an increase in what is called autophagosomes, which are
Think of autophagosomes like snipers, targeting and destroying weak proteins and waste. By increasing the number of autophagosomes in our bodies through intermittent fasting, we can increase the rate at which waste and useless proteins are eliminated causing cellular repair to occur at a more rapid rate.
In a recent study, after only 24 hours of fasting autophagosomes were increased by 300%. While we cannot produce new cells with autophagy we can increase our cells strength, the amount our bodies go through the autophagy process, and our overall health.
We aren’t getting any younger and our cells aren’t either…
Our once young and vibrate cells are aging with us and one day will cease to exist when we do.
If you compare someone that fasts often against someone that does not you will find they look younger even at an older age because they have put their body through many autophagy processes in order to build stronger cells.
When autophagy is impaired, and there are fewer autophagosomes in our brain cells we are at risk for a plethora of diseases and infection (both viral and bacterial), inflammation and autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, insulin resistance, and cancer, and it plays an important role in aging itself. 3,5
“If you compare someone that fasts often against someone that does not you will find they look younger… even at an older age”
Key to the aging process is the accumulation of molecular damage. This takes the form of improperly functioning organelles, a buildup of abnormal protein deposits, faulty enzymes, and the accumulation of genetic damage and mutations. 1
Much of medical care now focuses on the treatment of chronic degenerative diseases, which arise from the buildup of molecular damage…
However, without autophagy occurring, the build-up of debris in the cells can essentially spread throughout the rest of the body causing damage to more cells. Almost like a rotten apple causing the rest of apples to go bad.
Autophagy is also being investigated in the medical community for its role in age reversal. After all, it is the body’s most natural and efficient response
Examples of important autophagic functions include the removal of damaged mitochondria (the cell’s energy powerhouses), the removal of misfolded proteins that cause toxicity and accumulate during aging, stress, and disease, and the breakdown of fats, or lipids.
Autophagy plays a particularly critical role in immune function by helping to eliminate foreign invaders as well as by repressing excessive inflammation.
For example, autophagic processes can directly digest bacteria and viruses but can also decrease cellular signals that stimulate the immune response. Furthermore, autophagy plays a role in antibody production and also decreases the risk of self-destructive autoimmune diseases.
Autophagy plays a role in antibody production and also decreases the risk of self-destructive autoimmune diseases.
A healthy lifestyle that includes intermittent fasting is a potent trigger for autophagy in many different organs. There are other potent inducers of autophagy that are a part of a healthy lifestyle as well. These include exercise and a ketogenic diet. Studies show that training performance, muscle gains, and nutrient absorption improved in those who were fasting. Ketosis is also a potent way to stimulate autophagy.
The metabolic process that occurs during ketosis is when the body is specifically starved of carbohydrates. Fats are broken down to ketone bodies and used as a source of energy instead of glucose, which is particularly important to organs that are highly metabolically active, such as the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle.6 A full ketogenic diet contains no more than 50 g of carbohydrates per day but enhanced ketosis can be seen in diets with as much as 150 g of carbohydrates daily.7 Once your body is adapted to a keto diet your brain can run on ketones. Fat is very energy-efficient and your brain is a large energy consumer. Many say the mental clarity that comes with a keto diet is well worth the sacrifice.
In summary, autophagy represents the cell’s way of housekeeping and recycling damaged and poorly functioning components. When properly regulated, it’s a powerful tool that promotes health and longevity. A nutritious diet (such as one provided by FastBlast smoothies) that includes intermittent fasting plus regular exercise will help your body’s cells maximize their potential through autophagy.
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1. Mizushima, Noboru, et al. “Autophagy fights disease through cellular self-digestion.” Nature 451.7182 (2008): 1069.
2. Choi, Augustine MK, Stefan W. Ryter, and Beth Levine. “Autophagy in human health and disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 368.7 (2013): 651-662.
3. Liang, C. “Negative regulation of autophagy.” Cell death and differentiation 17.12 (2010): 1807.
4. Madeo, Frank, et al. “Essential role for autophagy in lifespan extension.” The Journal of clinical investigation 125.1 (2015): 85-93.
5. He, Congcong, et al. “Exercise-induced BCL2-regulated autophagy is required for muscle glucose homeostasis.” Nature 481.7382 (2012): 511.
6. Pinckaers, Philippe JM, et al. “Ketone bodies and exercise performance: the next magic bullet or merely hype?.” Sports Medicine 47.3 (2017): 383-391.
7. Westman, Eric C., et al. “Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86.2 (2007): 276-284.