What is Autophagy? It means “self-eating,” and in this case, the body is cleaning out toxins to make way for healthier cells. It is the stage the body enters while in starvation-mode that allows it to consume its own damaged or redundant tissue and reduce the accumulation of dysfunctional proteins, cellular debris, and damaged DNA that contributes to neurodegeneration. If a person wants to embark on an intermittent-fasting diet to achieve autophagy, they should first consult their doctor.
Intermittent fasting can play a crucial role in stimulating autophagy. Although results depend on individual factors such as exercise, after 18-20 hours of fasting, the autophagy process has been initiated with maximum benefits occurring within 48-72 hours. Intermittent fasting has been around before there was a term for it. Read The Five Stages of Intermittent Fasting; it describes how ketones serve as an alternative energy source of energy for the brain and organs when glucose is not available. Drinking coffee, water, or green tea without added milk or sugar can easily be incorporated into an intermittent-fasting lifestyle.
Some find intermittent fasting challenging. A few tips to success include to increase the taste of food without the calories, avoid obsessing over food, hydrate, be deliberate about calorie intake, and rest. Remove temptation foods that may trigger unplanned binge eating. Out of sight and out of mind is usually the best approach. Try to keep busy through the peak hunger peaks until it subsides. The body adjusts to intermittent fasting as each hour passes.
When it is time to break the fasting and eat, skip the junk food. Focus on fiber-rich foods, healthy fats, protein, and foods high in nutrition. Alcohol dehydrates and disturbs the metabolism and should be avoided. Supplements can get complicated but consider taking electrolyte supplements that contain potassium and magnesium. Finally, a support system of people who understand your intermittent-fasting journey will want to contribute positively to your success. These folks will not contribute to your challenges but will appropriately congratulate milestones to stay on track.
Ketones, produced as a result of intermittent-fasting and autophagy, promote the production of beneficial growth hormones. Although the full range of autophagy benefits is still being explored, there is encouraging evidence that it may slow the aging process and control inflammation. There are many intermittent fasting benefits, including increased energy, decreased risk of diabetes, and weight loss.
Autophagy has also demonstrated multiple anti-aging benefits. Notable benefits include reduced risks and protection against type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Doctors explain that as we age, our body’s ability to remove defective cells declines, allowing these cells to multiply and potentially increase cancer risk. Drinking your morning brew as part of your intermittent fasting plan may be beneficial as noted in Coffee, Intermittent and Autophagy. Researchers concluded that moderate levels of caffeine promote autophagy in the skeletal muscle. The antioxidant compounds found in decaffeinated coffee also result in autophagy is activated.
Science is discovering an increasing number of health benefits of intermittent fasting that can trigger beneficial autophagy. The key is to keep it simple and follow an incremental fasting schedule a few times a year that will allow your body to regenerate cells and recover.