What Is Autophagy and When Does Autophagy Begin

  • Post last modified:September 16, 2021
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What is autophagy? When does autophagy begin? Learn about methods that promote autophagy backed by science.

New research shows that activating autophagy is expected to slow down the aging process, make your body healthier and younger.

Even a healthy body can have damaged cells due to environmental pollution, bad living habits, poor diet, mental stress and other reasons.

As we get older, there are more and more aging, damaged cells in body tissues and organs, while a large number of free radicals are produced. These free radicals can cause various chronic diseases and accelerate the aging of your body.

Fortunately, autophagy can help eliminate damaged and aging cells and reduce inflammation. Autophagy can also reduce the risk of disease and slow down the speed of aging.

What Is Autophagy?

The literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.” It sounds scary, but it is actually very beneficial for your health.

According to Priya Khorana, Ph.D. in Nutritional Education at Columbia University, autophagy is a method by which the body removes aging and damaged cells to regenerate and renew healthy cells.

This is actually a self-protective way for the body to cope with stress for survival.

The process of autophagy is very complicated. It involves the process of breaking down the cell’s own structure through the lysosomal mechanism. The ultimate goal is to maintain a stable cycle of cell growth, development, aging and degradation.

It’s like resetting your computer to restore the entire system to its best condition.

The Benefits Of Autophagy

Since autophagy was discovered in the 1960s, scientists have done a lot of research and experiments. They have proven that autophagy has many benefits to the human body, mainly reflected in the delay of aging.

The following are some of the benefits of autophagy:

  • Anti-oxidation and reduced inflammation: Autophagy can eliminate toxins and free radicals by removing long-term accumulation of aging and damaged cells in tissues and organs, thereby reducing the chance of chronic inflammation.
  • May prevent Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia: Autophagy promotes brain health by removing malformed proteins related to the development of neurological diseases.
  • Maintain immunity: Help fight infectious diseases by removing disease-causing microorganisms and toxins from inside cells.
  • May prevent diabetes and obesity: Prevent metabolic dysfunction by promoting cell health.
  • Increase muscle strength: Renew aging and damaged cells, so the muscles maintain normal strength.
  • May prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases: Protects the normal function of tissues and organs by repairing damaged cells.

How To Induce Autophagy and When Does Autophagy Begin 

Autophagy is a function of our body cells. However, as we age, it will gradually weaken.

The good news is, autophagy can be more prominent under conditions of increased stress and nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, you can use this feature to fully mobilize the enthusiasm of cells.

The following are some effective ways to induce autophagy.

1. Intermittent fasting:

“Fasting is [the] most effective way to trigger autophagy. During fasting, your body will be in a state of short-term nutritional deficiency. This will stimulate the cells to enter a survival mode and initiate autophagy.

Common methods of fasting include 16/8 fasting, 5:2 fasting, one meal a day and eating every other day. The longer you fast, the more obvious the effect of autophagy will be.

Of course, you need to adopt this way of eating slowly according to your own situation. Then you can gradually extend the fasting time. Don’t just stop eating or drinking for several days.


2. Ketogenic diet:

This is a very high-fat and very low-carbohydrate diet. The principle of autophagy with the keto diet is similar to that of fasting.

On the keto diet, you get about 75 percent of your daily calories from fat and 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs.

This will force your body to undergo some major changes because the metabolic pathway will change. As a result, you will start using fat as fuel instead of glucose in carbohydrates.

As the intake of carbohydrates is greatly restricted, your body begins to produce ketone bodies.

Studies have shown that when the body enters a state of ketosis, autophagy occurs, which has a neuroprotective function. This is why the ketogenic diet was first used in the treatment of epilepsy in children.

The ketogenic diet is also a very effective way to lose weight.


3. Appropriate exercise: 

The latest research shows that exercise can cause autophagy in multiple organs involved in metabolic regulation, such as muscle, liver, pancreas and adipose tissue.

Appropriate participation in some aerobic and strength training will put pressure on your body and induce autophagy.

4. Other methods:

In addition to the best methods mentioned above, there are other measures that can help your body initiate autophagy, including a good night’s sleep, taking a supplement of omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D, MCT oil, etc.

With the continuous deepening of medicine and scientific research, autophagy’s impact on physical health has received more and more attention.

Autophagy has an obvious effect on delaying the aging of body organs and keeping the skin looking young.

However, if you have any of the following conditions, such as taking any medications, you are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant, you are breastfeeding or you suffer from chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, etc), please consult your doctor before making a series of life and diet changes.

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