AUTOPHAGY: ANTIAGING POWERHOUSE
In previous posts we reviewed how intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, heightens the process of autophagy. Autophagy is derived from the Greek prefix “auto” meaning self, and the Greek word “phagy” meaning eating. Don’t be grossed out but autophagy literally means self-eating!
Autophagy is a fascinating physiologic process in our bodies that is essentially a cellular-cleaning and recycling system. When activated, autophagy cleans up cellular debris, damaged cells and damaged cell components, and also removes cellular waste. It is an intrinsic mechanism for damage repair. I like to think of it as a way to clean the junk from our trunk! Autophagy is an essential process to maintain cellular homeostasis, ensuring a stable, relatively constant internal environment.
Remarkably, autophagy is also a mechanism that provides a nutrient source, amino acids, during metabolic distress or nutritional deficiencies, such as occurs during fasting. Autophagy works quite like a Pac-man, devouring damaged cell components as well as damaged cells. The autophagy process recycles protein to provide amino acids used to build new cells and to provide the body with nutrients when food is not readily available. This amazing recycling system uses the recycled components to help build new, robust, healthier cells………..antiaging at the cellular level!
With normal aging, our autophagy rate declines and cellular damage accumulates.
It’s as if we put our recycling out at home but the recycling service isn’t picking it up as frequently or as effectively. They either aren’t coming as scheduled or leaving it all on the curb!
We’ve detailed previously the multiple negative health consequences of a high-glycemic diet, full of sugars and processed carbohydrates. Much of the deleterious impacts of such a diet are a consequence of ensuing elevated insulin levels leading to insulin resistance. These high insulin levels, peaked because of high-glycemic diets, and resulting insulin resistance, suppresses autophagy, effectively turning off the process. Over-indulgence and eating late at night, prevents autophagy from even occurring at all. Remember, if we don’t fast long enough, we can’t unleash our internal Pac-men to remove the crud and regenerate vibrant cells.
The rate of autophagy ebbs and flows during each 24-hour day.
A fed-state leads to high insulin and slow rates of autophagy.
A fasted state leads to low-insulin and increased rates of autophagy.
Our bodies always prefer balance in all aspects in line with our intrinsic circadian rhythms. For example:
Everything in rhythm, balance, and harmony for optimal health!
Remember, if we don’t FAST then autophagy is SLOW.
Since our bodies are being broken down and rebuilt constantly, we need to periodically replace the damaged parts! This is why autophagy is so valuable to our health and pace of aging. The rate of autophagy declines with aging and this decline plays a prominent role in our risks of degenerative diseases. In other words, lower levels of autophagy contribute to rapid aging and increased disease susceptibility.
BENEFITS OF AUTOPHAGY
When fasting your body can burn fat that is inaccessible during a fed state.
Decreases neurodegenerative disease risk by improving brain and nerve cell function.
Dramatically improves blood sugar levels to offset diabetes risk.
Reduces oxidative stress.
Increases muscle mass and enhances exercise results.
Better immune function.
Ramps up cell energy production via mitochondrial biogenesis.
Stimulates stem cells.
Our goal: increase rate of autophagy to youthful levels
Fast intermittently to amplify rates of autophagy.
Since it takes 12 hours after our last meal to fully enter a fasted state, try to fast at least 12-hours in each 24-hour day.
Gradually or periodically extend fast for 16-hour intervals for even better results.
A popular fasting interval is from 8pm until 12 noon, essentially stopping eating after dinner and skipping/delaying breakfast the next morning.
Remember to stay hydrated during your fasting window.
Thankfully, coffee and tea are permitted during your fast and actually serve as autophagy boosters.
Low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, high-fat diet to stimulate nutritional ketosis is ideal.
Fats such as coconut oil, MCT oil, and omega-3 fish oils support autophagy.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and weight lifting are the most efficient exercise autophagy enhancers.
Try to exercise during your fasting interval, you will notice greater fat burning and muscle growth results.
Restorative sleep is a must to augment the health and anti-aging benefits of autophagy.
Autophagy intensifiers that have been found to boost the effects of intermittent fasting include:
EPCG, Epigallocatechin, found in green tea
Upgraded autophagy produces youthful cells, youthful organs, and vibrant health for an effective antiaging maneuver.