Autophagy is an already-occurring process in your cells which helps to keep you healthy. With a few lifestyle changes, you can enjoy the benefits of increased autophagy.
Autophagy is the process of cleaning out cells from the body to make new, healthy cells. It’s essentially the body’s way of recycling and repairing. The removed cells include those which are damaged, old, or no longer functional. These cells are consumed by the body either entirely or in part. The energy from removed cells is conserved so that your body can create fresh replacement cells.
Autophagy is a natural way to keep you healthy, as damaged and nonfunctioning cells can make you sick. While autophagy is active in all cells, there are ways to induce increased autophagy activity in order to intensify the benefits.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Autophagy
- Increased lifespan is one of the biggest benefits of autophagy. Research shows that the self-destruction of dysfunctional cells and the production of new, healthy cells, helps us live longer.
- Autophagy also benefits the nervous system and helps prevent age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
- The regeneration of cells promotes overall health because it keeps the immune system in top shape, as well as increases growth of brain and nerve cells. This helps mediate synaptic defects in the brain, improve memory and more.
- Autophagy may improve heart health and even help treat heart disease.
- Autophagy may increase metabolic responses as well, and help to burn fat.
- Increased immune system function is mediated by autophagy. There are several specific illnesses that autophagy has been shown to improve, including Parkinson’s disease.
If you have cancer, increased autophagy may not be for you. Although some studies show that autophagy may be helpful in suppressing tumors, increased autophagy could also mean accelerated tumor growth. Unfortunately, the role of autophagy in cancer is still unclear and requires much more research. Always consult with your doctor before taking any steps in using autophagy as part of cancer treatment. Only medical professionals can advise on your personal situation.
How to Stimulate Autophagy in Your Body
If you are generally healthy, increased autophagy can only have positive effects. While the process of autophagy is already happening in your body at all times, there are a few things you can do to increase it.
- Exercise is the easiest way to promote autophagy. Exercising puts your body under stress so that autophagy can be induced throughout your muscles, liver, pancreas, and adipose tissue. Go get your autophagy benefits by getting outside and getting active.
- Fasting is another popular method. While some choose to fast once a week, others enjoy the popular method of intermittent fasting. As a natural response to caloric restriction, your body perceives nutrient deprivation and increases its metabolic response. While fasting has become increasingly trendy over the last few years, remember to be careful with fasting and do it on your own schedule. Adolescents, those with chronic diseases, pregnant and breastfeeding folks, and people with a history of eating disorders should not partake in fasting. It’s best to talk to your doctor for advice.
The last method of stimulating autophagy is the ketogenic diet. However, we do not recommend the keto diet as it comes with a host of problems. By cutting out carbohydrates almost entirely, keto can be an unhealthy and unsustainable diet, especially when fats and proteins come from animal products. It has been shown to have side effects including fatigue, nausea, fever, stomach pains, sleeping problems, and trouble concentrating. Furthermore, engaging in such restrictive diets could lead to disordered eating. It’s not realistic to stay away from carbs forever, so it’s best to enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.
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