Fasting has many fantastic health benefits. One that isn’t widely known or discussed is how it stimulates a process known as autophagy. In this article, we will discuss what autophagy is and its many benefits.
Fasting is defined as not eating for a specified period. Fasts can last anywhere from 12 hours (an intermediate fast) or up to 40 days or more (extended block fast). Longer fasts should only be performed under a doctor’s supervision.
Autophagy is derived from the Greek word αὐτόφαγος autóphagos, which means The current use of the term was made famous in 1963 by Christian de Duve, a Belgian chemist.
Autophagy occurs when diseased and damaged cells are removed from the body. It is a form of cellular repair, allowing the body to self-regulate and return to normal function. This process is believed to be an essential component of maintaining good health.
When a person fasts, the body is forced to burn stored fat for energy. As the fast continues, the body shifts into autophagy, repairing itself from within at the cellular level.
Autophagy has several essential functions in the body, including the following:
Removal of damaged cells. This includes improving the mitochondrial function by removing diseased, old, and damaged cells. Mitochondria are cell organelles that play a pivotal role in supplying energy for cellular physiology and energy metabolism.
Development of embryos. Autophagy helps to maintain a healthy balance of energy sources and energy levels in developing embryos.
Eliminate foreign pathogens. Autophagy kills cells that consist of foreign pathogens. These can include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxic chemicals, dust, and pollen.
Assist with cellular stress. Autophagy assists with cellular repair in cells that are nutrient deprived and experiencing cellular stress.
Studies on autophagy indicate it has many potential health benefits.
Tumor growth. Studies indicate autophagy could inhibit tumor development and cell death in the breast and prostate. Autophagy also reduces the development of various tumors throughout the body.1
Longevity. Studies indicate autophagy may play a role in slowing the aging process, while simultaneously extending the lifespan of many species, including humans. The reduced insulin signaling that can occur during autophagy is one potential factor shown to extend lifespan.2
Joint issues. Inflammation is one potential cause of joint problems. This inflammation can be the source of pain and stiffness in the joints, which can worsen as people age. Preliminary studies indicate autophagy could decrease joint pain caused by inflammation by “preventing the development of an autoimmunity scenario by eliminating intracellular pathogens and maintaining immune cells.”3
Immune system health. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against illness and disease. Autophagy has been shown to sequester intracellular bacteria and mediate their destruction. This process has also exhibited signs of delivering antigens, which find and neutralize harmful pathogens in the bloodstream. 4
Insulin resistance. Studies indicate the function of pancreatic beta cells is regulated during autophagy. This helps to increase insulin resistance, enabling the pancreas to enhance insulin secretion. Many researchers believe this helps protect the body from oxidative stress in pancreatic beta cells.5
- Eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. This type of diet (also known as a ketogenic diet) can help the body shift from burning carbs (glucose) to burning fat (ketones) more efficiently.
- Practice intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting for 12-24 hours helps with weight loss, increased insulin resistance, and other health benefits. Intermittent fasting increases the body’s ability to use stored fat for energy. In turn, this might prompt entering into autophagy quicker and staying in this state longer than those who don’t intermittent fast.
- Exercise. Exercising on an empty stomach forces the use of stored body fat to complete the workout. (This makes it an excellent weight-loss tool as well). Many experts believe just 30 minutes of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) may prompt the body to enter autophagy. Weight lifting, cycling, and running are favorite high-intensity exercises.
- Get adequate sleep. Fragmented sleep disrupts the circadian rhythms of autophagy.6
In addition to the tips listed, there are many products and additional literature that can help maximize the benefits of fasting and autophagy:
Fasting Trio - CytoDetox, Fastonic,TrueCarbonCleanse
The Fasting Trio consists of three products designed to be used as a fasting support system:
Fastonic adds hydrogen molecules to water, which helps to neutralize free radicals in the body and decrease oxidative stress while fasting.
TrueCarbonCleanse assists with the elimination of toxins during fasting.
CytoDetox can be used before, during, or after a fast. It helps the body detox on the cellular level, which could help decrease any unpleasant symptoms or side effects from fasting. /p>
TCF - CellCLR helps to stimulate autophagy during fasting. This product offers the following benefits during a fast:
- Fat burning increased
- Energy levels improved
- Cognitive functions improved
- Healthier inflammatory responses
TCF – CellCLR contains a unique combination of herbs and nutrients specifically designed to stimulate higher levels of autophagy.
Beyond fasting is an excellent guide to help a person prepare for a fast and maximize its effectiveness. The book consists of a seven-week protocol that is designed to give the body the necessary tools it needs to create new stem cells and heal itself upon starting the fast. The end goal is to help a person embrace fasting and healthy new habits that can last a lifetime.
Autophagy is the body’s natural ability to heal itself from within. The removal of sick and diseased cells has many potential benefits. Some of these benefits include; slowing down aging, increased insulin resistance, and improved immune system health. While many products promise results, autophagy may be the missing link to achieving the good health many seek.
1. Antunes F, Erustes AG, Costa AJ, (et al). Autophagy And Intermittent Fasting: The Connection For Cancer Therapy? Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2018 Dec 10;73(suppl 1):e814s. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2018/e814s. [PMID: 30540126]; PMCID: PMC6257056.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257056/
2. Nakamura S, Yoshimori T. Autophagy, and Longevity. Mol Cells. 2018 Jan 31;41(1):65-72. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2018.2333. Epub 2018 Jan 23. [PMID: 29370695]; PMCID: PMC5792715.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5792715/#__sec2title
3. Vomero M, Barbati C, Colasanti T, (et al). Autophagy and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Current Knowledges and Future Perspectives. Front Immunol. 2018 Jul 18;9:1577. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01577. [PMID: 30072986]; PMCID: PMC6058034. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6058034/
4. Daniel J Puleston, Anna Katharina Simon. Autophagy in the Immune System. Immunology. 2014 Jan;141(1):1-8. doi: 10.1111/imm.12165. [PMID: 23991647 PMCID]: PMC3893844 DOI: 10.1111/imm.12165 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23991647/
5. Yang JS, Lu CC, Kuo SC, (et al). Autophagy and its link to type II diabetes mellitus. Biomedicine (Taipei). 2017 Jun;7(2):8. doi: 10.1051/bmdcn/2017070201. Epub 2017 Jun 14. [PMID: 28612706]; PMCID: PMC5479440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5479440/#!po=0.416667
6. Yi He,Germaine G. Cornelissen-Guillaume, Junyun J He,(et al). Circadian Rhythm Of Autophagy Proteins In Hippocampus Is Blunted By Sleep Fragmentation. Blood-Brain Barrier Group, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07420528.2015.1137581