It’s inevitable… Even in healthy humans, damaged cells can collect – which is normal if you’re alive. 😉
However, as we age we accumulate stress and environmental toxins that lead to partially damaged cells which can clutter up your system.
Autophagy is meant to tackle that problem.
The word has Greek roots – with “auto-“ meaning “self” and “-phagy” meaning “eating.”
While self-eating may sound pretty gross, it actually serves a very useful purpose in your body.
Autophagy: It’s Like Taking Out the Trash!
Imagine what your city would look like if the trash collectors all went on strike for one month – letting all the garbage for millions of people stack up. It’s ultimately super-messy and would get stinky in a hurry. Then it starts clogging up your ability to drive the streets or walk the sidewalks.
Or if you’ve ever been in the home of someone who never gets rid of anything… A colleague once told me she knew someone who had 20 years’ worth of magazines and books stacked everywhere in their home… to the point you could barely walk through the house.
That’s what happens inside your body when its “trash” doesn’t get taken out… when you never de-junk old cells.
During autophagy, “partially damaged” cells plus unused proteins and other junk in the body are marked for removal from your system. It’s the ultimate “house-cleaning.” The true definition of detoxification.
Autophagy is a key survival mechanism for humans, being essential for healthy functioning cells.
What then happens when your autophagy malfunctions or is overwhelmed?
All those old and non-functional cells get in the way of the healthy ones, leading to disease and rapid aging. For example, in Alzheimer’s disease, dead proteins fail to clear. Then they travel to the brain, and get stuck there as plaques linked to the disease.
As might be anticipated, autophagy tends to slow down as you age, which is why chronic diseases are usually linked with older age.
You want your body’s autophagy to kick in. Autophagy offers many health benefits…
The Many Health Benefits of Autophagy
We all get older every day. But some people seem to “wear” their age particularly well in terms of appearance and overall health.
That’s because your cells age faster when there are a lot of damaged proteins and organelles hanging around to hinder normal body function and repair. Some people have more of these cells, and/or do less to clear them out. Let’s discover the benefits of autophagy.
- Healthy aging.
- Weight management. Obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes are linked to lack of autophagy. Several studies have linked obesity with impaired autophagy in various tissues, including adipose, liver, and skeletal muscle.
- Reduced inflammation. Autophagy helps turn off inflammation – by down-regulating the actions of inflammatory cells like macrophages, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and cytokines.
- Better brain health. Scientists believe that impaired autophagy may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Autophagy seems to support brain structure, cognitive function, and neuroplasticity.
- Better heart health. Inadequate autophagy has been linked to heart disease, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.
- Protects the stability of DNA.
- Prevents organ damage (called necrosis).
- Improves blood sugar control. Autophagy is essential for proper beta cell function. One study linked diabetes to hampered autophagy. Stimulating autophagy may keep your beta cells healthy, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve metabolic flexibility.
- Enhances the immune system by getting rid of intercellular pathogens.
- A complex role for autophagy and cancer risk.
Autophagy has cell-protective properties that may prevent tumor growth early on. But in late-stage cancer, autophagy might actually aid tumor growth by protecting it from being destroyed by your body’s normal processes.
Can You Induce Autophagy? And If So, How?
Given that autophagy is foundational to staying healthy, detoxified, and fit, activating autophagy is a key way to boost your lifespan… and your health along the way.
Autophagy occurs in response to stress, particularly good stressors. 😊
Unfortunately, there’s no magical switch to turn it on or off.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can induce autophagy…
The right diet. More on “right” diet in a moment.
Exercise. Exercise is a good stress that tells your body to induce autophagy so your cells can recover from the stress. Research shows that exercise induces autophagy in multiple organs. Aim for 30 minutes per day.
Quality and quantity of sleep. Researchers have discovered that circadian rhythm controls the autophagy process. And that disruption of circadian rhythm inhibits autophagy.
Cold and heat stress. Both can stress your cells and thereby promote autophagy. Switch back and forth. For example, go outside in winter with minimal clothing and then go inside and take a hot shower. Or take a sauna, followed by a cold shower.
The #1 Way to Induce Autophagy – The Best of All
Temporary calorie restriction – aka, intermittent fasting – is the #1 way to induce autophagy.
Fasting is a simple concept. Just abstain from eating food during certain hours or days. (You can drink water and liquids like coffee or tea during your non-eating hours.)
Intermittent fasting (IMF) is cyclic fasting. Or time-restricted eating, if you prefer.
The basic goal is to eat only during a 4- to 8-hour window each day. Aim for just one to two meals a day. For example, if you finish dinner by 7pm, try to wait till 10am to eat your next meal.
Variations of IMF include alternate day fasting (eating just every other day). Attempt to fast for 12 to 36 hours at a stretch.
How long must you fast for autophagy to occur? Studies suggest that 24-48 hours of fasting has the strongest effect.
If Fasting Is Too Big a Stretch for You…
If fasting is too big a stretch for you, your next best option is to eat a ketogenic (keto) diet.
A keto diet is a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet. This works similarly to fasting. In keto eating, you get roughly 75% of your daily calories from healthy fats, and no more than 5-10% from carbs.
Keto eating forces your body into metabolic flexibility, as you quit burning glucose from carbs, and start burning fat for fuel.
What are the healthy fats?
- Coconut oil
- 100% pure olive oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Free-range eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Fermented cheese
- Seeds and nuts.
Skip all other fats, including those found in 99.9% of packaged foods.
In addition to these healthy fats, eat lots of vegetables (Beware: Potatoes do not count! They are carbs.)
Severe carb restriction like this induces ketosis, which is especially beneficial for your brain. As one example, animals placed on a ketogenic diet activated pathways that reduce brain injury during and after seizures.
Other foods/supplements that stimulate autophagy include:
- Green tea
- Curcumin (such as found in UltraCür®, Organic UltraCür®, SenUltra, Pathway 2, Pathway 3, and more)
- Spermidine (as found in SenUltra™)
- Reishi mushroom
- Broccoli sprouts/sulforaphane (as found in UltraBroc™ broccoli sprouts)
- Berberine (such as in Pathway 3 and UltraMetabolic™)
- Resveratrol (will be in the upcoming Pathway 4)
Note that getting these compounds into your cells is critical to the process of autophagy. Use supplements made with patented LPS™ technology for ultra-quick absorption that you can really feel!
Foods that STOP autophagy include seed oils (sunflower, canola, soy, etc.), carbs (bread, potatoes, rice), sugars (desserts, soda, fruit juice, and more), dairy, and all processed foods.
The Intriguing Relationship Between Autophagy and Senescence
Autophagy and senescent cells are related in that autophagy plays a role in clearing senescent cells.
Autophagy is the cellular process of clearing damaged or dysfunctional cellular components in order to maintain cellular homeostasis and prevent the buildup of harmful cellular waste.
Senescent cells are cells that stop dividing and enter a state of permanent cell cycle arrest.
Studies show that autophagy may play a role in clearing senescent cells from tissues. Autophagy is needed for the regulation of senescence itself. Some evidence suggests that activating autophagy can delay or prevent the onset of senescence.
The relationship between autophagy and senescense is complex and multidimensional, and research is ongoing.
Would You Trust a Former Pharmaceutical Rep?
He considered medical school but rejected the plan because he didn’t want to practice conventional medicine. Yet he found himself in a pharmaceutical rep job selling chemotherapy out of college. Imagine how that went for him…
It certainly gave him an insider’s look at the industry!
Get the inside scoop yourself, from podcast guest Kyle Drew, co-host of the “Know the Cause” radio broadcast for 15 years, host of his own show, Super Health, and a nutritionist. What you learn from him today could change your life.
Watch the video on YouTube now . Prefer audio only? Listen on Spotify now .