From the Latin word that means “self-eating,” autophagy (aw-TAH-fuh-jee) is a natural process that involves breaking down unneeded or damaged components within a cell and reusing them as the building blocks for cellular repair or the formation of new cells.
This natural process is EVERYTHING! It helps keep all your cells healthy.
The breakdown products created by autophagy are then recycled for important cell functions, especially during periods of stress or starvation.
While just the image of an army of “self-eating” cells might sound totally eerie and like it comes straight out of a science fiction movie, autophagy is a miraculous fountain of youth for your cells.
When in this mode, your cells can repair damage and HEAL themselves.
Autophagy is nothing to be feared and should be welcomed and applauded like the superhero it truly is.
Read on for the wide array of benefits your cellular cleanup crew activates!
Autophagy may save your life.
Dramatic? Yes. But, scientifically accurate.
Autophagy is an ancient mechanism whose main function is to preserve your life.
During times of extreme stress, infection, or starvation, this process kicks in to maximize cellular repair while minimizing cellular damage.
The combination of intermittent fasting (with some fat as fuel) while activating autophagy at the same time can both cut off glucose to an infectious intruder and reduce inflammation.
Then your immune system has an easier time repairing damage caused by both infection and inflammation.
In short, we evolved using autophagy to conserve energy and repair damage when energy became scarce. But it’s also a critical part of the immune system’s ability to battle illness and reduce the risk of cancer.
Autophagy may improve your quality and length of life.
Anti-aging benefits may sound too good to be true, but beauty really does run far deeper than your skin.
Since the 1950s, scientists have known about the process of autophagy. Recent studies have revealed more about how it improves your cellular health.
Instead of taking in new nutrients, cells undergoing autophagy recycle the damaged parts they have, removing toxic material and repairing themselves. When your cells repair themselves, they work better, and they can behave like younger cells.
You may have heard or noticed that some people have a very different chronological and biological age. How much toxic damage a body has taken and how it has been able to repair plays a large role in appearing and functioning like a much younger person, no matter what your chronological age.
Autophagy helps your metabolism work more efficiently by cleaning up toxic build up in your mitochondria.
Autophagy is a process of taking out trash and replacing cell parts, especially important inside your mitochondria.
Mitochondria are your cellular engines. They burn fat and make ATP, your body’s energy fuel. During that process, there’s a lot of harsh toxic build up in your mitochondria that can cause damage. Breaking it down proactively saves future wear and tear on those precious cells.
Autophagy of other cell parts helps the entire cell work more efficiently. They’re better able to burn fuel and make proteins.
Healthier cells work more efficiently.
Autophagy reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Many diseases of aging brains take so long to develop because they are the result of proteins in and around your brain cells that are misfolded and don’t work properly. These damaged cells build up.
Since autophagy helps cells clean up the proteins that aren’t doing their jobs, damaged proteins are less likely to accumulate. For instance, in Alzheimer’s disease autophagy removes amyloid, and in Parkinson’s autophagy removes ⍺-synuclein.
Functional medicine docs are beginning to label dementia as Type 3 diabetes because constant high blood sugar keeps autophagy from activating it’s healing processes. That makes it more difficult to keep these cells clear of clutter and debris!
Autophagy helps regulate inflammation.
Autophagy provides a just right “goldilocks” amount of inflammation your body needs by helping to boost or quiet your immune response.
It can increase inflammation when an invader is present by triggering your immune system to attack.
Most of the time, however, autophagy decreases inflammation instigated by your immune response by removing the signals — those proteins called antigens — that trigger it.
Autophagy helps fight infectious disease.
As mentioned above, autophagy can help activate an immune response when you need it.
In addition, the process of autophagy can remove certain microbes directly from the inside of cells, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, or viruses, such as HIV.
Autophagy can also remove the toxins created by infections, which is especially important when your body is attacked by a food-borne illness.
Autophagy improves muscle performance.
When you exercise, you create micro-tears and inflamed muscles that need repair.
Your muscle cells will repair by undergoing autophagy to reduce the energy required to use the muscle, degrade damaged components, and improve the balance of energy to reduce the risk of future damage.
Autophagy helps prevent cancer onset.
Mice that researchers have genetically engineered to have impaired autophagy have increased rates of cancer.
Autophagy can suppress processes that are pro-cancer like chronic inflammation, genome instability, and the DNA damage response.
In the future we may question how much damage chemotherapy does to cancer cells (killing them outright) versus to our own cells (activating autophagy to trigger an immune response that affects these cells). More research is needed to better understand this relationship.
Autophagy improves your digestive health.
The cells that line your gastrointestinal tract are at work 24/7. In fact, a large part of your feces are your own cells!
As a result of turning on autophagy, your digestive cells can repair and restore, clear themselves of junk, and reduce or activate the immune system as needed.
Because a chronic immune response in the gut can overwhelm and inflame your bowels, a chance to rest, repair, and restore is critical to your gut health.
Activate autophagy with a schedule that allows for intermittent fasting to give your gut the time and space it needs to heal.
I am totally convinced that intermittent fasting is your gut’s BFF.
Autophagy improves your skin health.
Your skin cells are battered by damage from chemicals, air pollution, light, heat, cold, humidity changes, and physical damage.
It’s a wonder we don’t look ten times worse for wear!
When your skin cells accumulate damage and toxins, they age in place. Skin cells, in particular, engulf bacteria that may damage the body, so it is very important to support them as they clear out the clutter.
Even though your skin makes new cells often, autophagy can help repair the existing ones so that you can really glow!
Autophagy may support a healthy weight.
My weight loss program teaches how to use intermittent fasting to activate autophagy.
Here are some benefits of autophagy that also support a healthy weight:
- Autophagy requires fat-burning to be turned on but spares protein. On very long fasts, you will lose protein mass, but in shorter periods of fasting, you can activate autophagy, burn fat, spare protein, and get all the benefits of a leaner, fitter you.
- Autophagy quells unnecessary inflammation. Chronic inflammation raises insulin, causing more weight storage– so less inflammation helps reduce insulin levels.
- Autophagy reduces toxins in your cells. As long as you can excrete those toxins, they are less likely to need fat cells to store them.
- Autophagy supports metabolic efficiency by repairing the parts of cells that make and package proteins and process energy, which is particularly helpful when cells need to switch to fat-burning for energy.
Autophagy (cell-eating) minimizes apoptosis (cell death).
Apoptosis is programmed cell death.
Compared to autophagy, the death of a cell is messy and creates garbage to clean up.
Your body triggers some inflammation to do the clean-up.
The more cells that repair themselves before they become damaged beyond repair, the less inflammation your body needs to trigger to clean up old cells and and energy to make new ones.
Less inflammation is involved in renewing tissues.
You can use that energy to replace cells that need more constant renewal, like skin or digestive cells. While there are some cells that must be turned over a lot, not all cells require this.
More repair with less cleanup is a great combination for a long health-span.
Learn how activating autophagy to make weight loss easier for you.
Autophagy has many health benefits, with the much touted side effect of weight loss. Significant weight loss.
In my It’s Never Too Late Weight Loss Program, I show you how to activate autophagy so you can achieve peace and freedom in your relationship with food, your body and weight.
So, please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call. Then you can see for yourself how it’s possible to jump start weight loss by intentionally training your focus on what matters most.
This exploration can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never Too Late to make your weight loss journey easier. Let’s go!
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