Fasting for Health…understanding Autophagy

Intermittent fasting is a current fad that is all abuzz about losing weight and getting healthy.  It is more than a fad, however, and has been around since animals have been around.  It is natural for animals to eat for fuel during the day and sleep at night allowing the digestive system to rest or fast until the next day when they eat again….thus the term break-fast.

Through the ages different cultures have developed different eating times and traditions that affect how and when they eat.

Did you? know that eating healthy food – within a specific time frame – can have significant and long-lasting health benefits?

Intermittent fasting (also known as time-restricted eating – within a specific time frame) is a hot topic on the news and in the most popular wellness blogs. But there’s more to it than simply skipping a few meals.  It can also have significant and long-lasting health benefits.

Also a better understanding of why fasting is so powerful after hearing his explanation of how autophagy (the breaking down of old, sick or dying cells that occurs during a fast) triggers the production of brand-new cells—reversing the cycle of aging that happens when old, damaged cells continue to divide and reproduce.

Fasting is a practice that has been associated with a wide array of potential benefits, including weight loss, as well as improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention.

When you fast your brain goes into survival mode, leading to increased ability to focus on the tasks at hand.  Fasting has also been associated with the reduction of oxidative stress, reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, as well as reduced inflammation, all of which are good for the health of the brain.


It is one of the fastest and safest ways to get you there.  Normally, when you eat your body burns the food you eat to provide fuel for energy for your body.  Extra food that does not get used as fuel is converted into fats and stored within the body for future use.  The more you store the more you gain weight.

When you fast the body is forced to use the stored fat for fuel which not only helps with weight control but also to balance numerous hormones that promote good health.

AUTOPHAGY is a way your body can cleanse iitself of toxins and damaged cells.

How autophagy works:

You can actually train your body to eat itself — and, believe it or not, you want it to.

It’s a natural process called autophagy (the word literally means “self-eating”).

It’s one way your body cleans house. In this process, your cells create membranes that hunt down scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; gobble them up; strip ’em for parts; and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts Trusted Source

The benefits of autophagy:

There’s some evidence to suggest that autophagy (“ah-TAH-fah-gee”) plays a role in controlling inflammation and boosting immunity, among other benefits. In one 2012 study on mice, researchers found that autophagy protected against: 

  • cancer
  • neurodegenerative disorders
  • infections
  • inflammatory diseases
  • aging
  • insulin resistance

Another study from that year showed how a lack of autophagy can be harmful. Researchers found that removing the autophagy gene in mice caused weight gain, lethargy, higher cholesterol, and impaired brain function. 

“Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes,” Champ says.

How to kick-start autophagy:

“So how do I eat myself?” is a question you probably have never asked, but we’re about to tell you how. Autophagy is a response to stress, so you’re going to want to put your body through some hardship to drum up a little extra self-cannibalism.

(We know this article keeps getting weirder, but trust us.)

As is often the case, short-term discomfort can bring long-term benefits.

“It’s our ancestral and evolutionary response to dealing with feast and famine in times of stress,” Champ says. “Since a lot of these things would kill us, like starvation and exercise, it only makes sense that after millions of years we adapted those mechanisms to make them positive.”

Three main ways to boost autophagy in your body:

1. Lower your carb intake

There’s a great way to activate autophagy without forgoing your favorite rib eye — though you’ll probably need to quit candy.

It’s called ketosis. The idea is to reduce carbohydrates to such low levels that the body has no choice but to use fat as a fuel source. This is the magic behind the wildly popular ketogenic diet.

Keto diets are high in fat and low in carbs (steak, bacon, and peanut butter shakes are a bonus for the keto crowd). Between 60 and 70 percent of your overall calories come from fat.

Protein makes up 20 to 30 percent of calories, while only 5 percent comes from carbs.

Being in ketosis can help people lose body fat while retaining muscle. There’s some evidence that it also may help the body fight cancerous tumors, lower the risk of diabetes, and protect against brain disorders, particularly epilepsy. 

In fact, in a 2018 study, rats fed a keto diet had less brain damage during seizures. 

“Ketosis is like an autophagy hack,” Champ says. “You get a lot of the same metabolic changes and benefits of fasting without actually fasting.”

Note: Anyone with health issues, especially kidney or liver problems, should talk to a doctor before beginning a keto diet.

2. Try intermittent fasting

Skipping meals is another stressful act that the body may not immediately love but ultimately benefits from. Research has shown there are loads of positives to an occasional fast.

One research review found that intermittent fasting and autophagy can make cancer treatments more effective while protecting normal cells and reducing side effects. 

In another study, intermittent fasting was shown to improve cognitive function, brain structure, and neuroplasticity, which is fancy-speak for the brain’s ability to reorganize and rebuild itself. 

In the meantime, give fasting a shot. While Champ fasts for 18 hours per day a couple of times per week, he knows that can be a tough routine for most of us.

Keep in mind that fasting is generally not recommended for children, for some people with diabetes or other issues with blood sugar, or for pregnant women.

3. Exercise regularly

In case the sweating, grunting, and post-workout pain didn’t tip you off, here’s the deal: Exercise puts stress on your body.

Working out actually damages your muscles, causing microscopic tears that your body then rushes to heal. This makes your muscles stronger and more resistant to any further “damage” you might cause them.

Regular exercise is the most popular way people unintentionally help their bodies cleanse themselves. (So there’s actually something to that fresh, renewed feeling you get after working out.)

So, what about humans?

It’s hard to figure out the amount of exercise required to switch on the autophagy boost.

Is there an easier way?

Of course people are looking for ways to induce autophagy through chemicals, because it would be easier than diet control, but we’re a long way off.  Of course, there is the perspective that the natural way is infinitely more desirable than adding more toxins to the body.

There’s a pretty strong case to be made that some stress on the body is a good thing.

Just remember: You don’t have to stay in ketosis, fast, or exercise intensely all day, every day to experience these benefits. Even a few hours here and there can help.

The takeaway? Occasional carbohydrate restriction, fasting, and regular exercise all carry mountains of benefits in addition to their impact on autophagy. The best that could happen is a stronger, leaner, and cleaner body.

One more thing: Drink plenty of nature’s own best liquid cleanser — pure, clean water.

Now that’s my kind of detox…

read more about autophagy

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