The Belgian people are known for their hospitality, beer and waffles. But in 1950, they added something else to their “things to boast about” list: and that is when Belgian scientist Christian de Duve discovered a cellular process he called autophagy. Autophagy is Greek for “self” (auto) and “eating” (phagy).
Autophagy is a process whereby the cells cannibalize some of their own parts. This cellular mechanism is an incredibly powerful cleanup process and, as you’ll see, is how the body slows the aging process and prevents the development of disease. When this process is turned on, your damaged cells are renewed, and you become a younger, healthier, more vibrant version of yourself!
Your Body’s Own Cleanup Crew
We have ovens that can automatically clean themselves and washing machines that do the same. Even our laptop computers have a way of scanning their insides and getting rid of any viruses or outdated code.
Well thanks to scientific research, we now know our bodies have a self-cleaning process that can keep us healthy and free of disease caused by cellular breakdown and the aging process. Let’s dive a little deeper into the world of cells to understand how this cleanup process works.
When you think of a cell, you probably see a little round thing with a nucleus in the center. But that’s only part of the story.
There are many parts to a cell. There are the mitochondria, which generate energy. Cells also contain proteins, ribosomes, lysosomes and other microscopic parts, and each must work optimally in order for the cell – and us – to thrive.
Over time, and thanks to bad lifestyle choices, chemicals in our food, stress, prescription medication, you name it, our cells form a buildup of waste material. This production of waste material (mostly dead organelles) is not, in and of itself, bad or dangerous. It’s just a normal part of cell life.
But if this waste is not removed from the cells, they become damaged, the aging process speeds up, and you can become very sick.
But nature has a way of making sense and knowing how to keep us healthy. Our internal trash-removal process, or autophagy, is a response to cellular stress, but very specific cellular stress. This stress can happen naturally, or it can be intentionally set, and I’ll get to that at the end of this post.
For now, I simply want you to understand that your body has a built-in process for keeping cells clean, healthy and working optimally so you can look and feel younger and prevent disease.
Speaking of, let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of autophagy.
Benefits of Autophagy
On a very deep cellular level, autophagy helps to improve the efficiency of the mitochondria, thus helping your overall levels of energy and cell metabolism.
Fights Neurodegenerative Disorders
New research suggests that many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are the result of damaged proteins that form in and around neurons, or brain cells. Autophagy can prevent the build up of this protein waste, keeping brain cells clean and functioning properly.
Helps Fight Infectious Disease
When we can remove the waste and toxins from our body, our immune system becomes stronger and we are better-able to fight off infectious diseases such as Lyme’s Disease, small pox, and some sexually-transmitted diseases.
Helps the Body to Prevent Cancer Growth
Autophagy eats garbage and anything in the body that seems suspicious. What a miraculous process that can see a tumor starting and take that junk and recycle it into healthier cells.
Helps Loose Skin from Weight Loss
When your body eats itself, it eats anything it doesn’t need, this includes loose, hanging skin that once covered a larger body. Someone that loses a lot of weight from regular dieting and exercise will have that loose skin, whereas someone who incorporated intermittent fasting into their weight loss plan will not have the same problem.
How to Get into Autophagy
Autophagy is a response to cellular stress. These are “good” stressors that activate the clean-up process. If you want to get into autophagy, consider the following strategies:
The biggest trigger for autophagy is fasting. I just mentioned intermittent fasting, which typically entails not eating for a 16-hour window and eating for an 8-hour window. Some people eat only once a day. There are many styles of fasting, but the bottom line is, by abstaining from eating for a set period of time, you are stressing your cells and causing autophagy to kick on. Like turning on your thermostat in response to being cold.
Now you may be wondering how long do you have to fast to get the full benefits of autophagy? While studies have indicated 24-48 hour fasts offer the greatest benefits, that’s just not doable for many people. Don’t worry, you will still get numerous benefits by fasting for 12 to 36 hours.
You’ve probably heard of the keto diet. This diet is high in fat and very low in carbs. In fact, people on keto usually get 75% or more of their daily calories from fat, not carbs. This forces your body to begin using fat for fuel instead of sugar for fuel.
In response to severe carb restriction, the body begins producing ketones, and these ketones have protective effects. Ketosis has also been shown to cause starvation-induced autophagy, which can improve cognitive function.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is another good stressor that can lead to autophagy. Remember, autophagy is simply a response to cellular stress, and exercising is one of the healthiest ways to naturally stress your cells. Weightlifting and resistance training for 30 minutes every other day is the best way to induce autophagy. No more getting on a treadmill for an hour every day, Start thinking short-term, acute stress.
Autophagy is a natural process and an incredibly beneficial one. By stressing our bodies in the right way, we can force our cells to consume waste material and rejuvenate entire systems. This is the real fountain of youth and the way to prevent disease. It is the most natural cure made by Mother Nature herself.
And speaking of natural cures…
Before you go, I wanted to share something else powerful with you, and that is a guide called The Natural Cures Blueprint. As you’ve just discovered, the body is programmed to be healthy. If given the right conditions, it can heal from most chronic diseases. But traditional medicine tends to take a pharmacological approach to treatment and prevention of diseases.
The Natural Cures Blueprint was written by two functional medicine doctors who have used natural strategies to cure their patients of diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Pick up your copy today and learn the truth behind your body’s ability to heal.