What if I told you there was a way to fight disease, rebuild your immune system and improve longevity, and that it was FREE. There is, by activating Autophagy through fasting.
WHAT IS AUTOPHAGY
Autophagy is the process by which our body, eats or recycles itself during times of low energy. I know “eating itself” sounds bad, but it actually eats dead, diseased and damaged cells. Think of it like a really good spring cleaning, but on a cellular level. It’s like burning soot out of your chimney or thawing the ice from inside your freezer. It’s a system put in place to optimize the body and continue to run smoothly.
How is Autophagy activated?
If we go back to the fridge metaphor, or even the chimney, the problems arrive because we can keep burning or freezing things without ever stopping to give it a break and clean it out. Our body is the same. When we take a break from eating, during periods of fasting, our body will activate autophagy. So it will create energy for metabolism while also cleaning out old and damaged cells.
Thoughts from a Fasting Researcher…
Although I can personally attribute some health benefits to fasting, I haven’t experienced the vast array of uses and outcomes to fasting.
To understand the myriad health benefits of fasting, read the following interview from a recent Journal, with Dr. Valter Longo, researcher at the University of Southern California:
“Q3: A lot of your work lately has been on dietary interventions, specifically on fasting. Can you explain briefly
your main findings?
We are now using fasting as a way to understand and activate the programs that are part of the toolkit of many organisms and that can destroy damaged cells or cellular components to save but also generate energy (7). The evidence in multiple organisms indicates that starvation conditions may be the most powerful way to activate embryonic-
like programs able to regenerate and potentially rejuvenate multiple systems and organs(8). We have now used this idea to treat Alzheimer, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmunities in mouse models (9). We have also used it to extend the mouse lifespan and healthspan (8). We are now using it in a series of clinical trials: several small ones on fasting and cancer are completed and show positive and promising results and the larger clinical
studies are still ongoing (10).” (you can download the full pdf HERE)
How long do I have to Fast for Autophagy?
It’s hard to find a specific protocol as to how long you need to fast to initiate Autophagy, but there are some common suggestions.
I have heard Dr. Dominic D’Agostino and Dr. Peter Attia both recommend 3-5 days fasts. Dr. D’Agostina suggests that everyone do a 3-5 day fast at least once a year to destroy precancerous cells. Dr. Attia is focused primarily on longevity, so his suggestion is based on increasing lifespan.
Although they suggest 3-5 days as being ideal, I think it’s important to note that other factors, including exercise, can also kickstart autophagy. For this reason any fasting at all could be worth starting.
There are also many religions that do 24 hr fasts each month and Ramadan consists of intermittent fasting for an entire month. So the concept of fasting isn’t new. On top of autophagy, Dr. Longo has also shown an activation of stem cells and a boost in immune activity from fasting.
Take Home message
No matter what your goal, incorporating periodic fasting into your lifestyle has many advantages. We’ve discussed what it can do for weight loss, metabolic flexibility and now autophagy. Fasting is simple and free and only takes time and practice to improve on it.
If you’re looking for further reading, this is a large breakdown of research about regeneration, cognitive function and lifespan through fasting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509734/