In this article:
- What is autophagy anyway?
- Health benefits of autophagy
- How to trigger autophagy
- Autophagy FAQs
Autophagy is our body's form of spring cleaning, only instead of getting rid of those ripped jeans you'll never get to mending, it's on a cellular level and it happens every day! Autophagy literally means "self-eating", it's a natural and necessary method of reducing, reusing, and recycling cellular waste as we age.
Autophagic activity includes mitophagy, the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria and mitochondrial components, as well as the removal of cellular proteins, organelles, and debris. During autophagy, cellular waste "vessels" called “autophagosomes” form and the spring cleaning begins! Once they're full, they then fuse with lysosomes that contain digestive enzymes which break down the contents of the autophagosome. At first this "self-devouring" process might sound unhealthy and to be avoided. In reality, autophagy is more like self-regulation. Cell death and dysfunction are natural and unavoidable, but the buildup of these expired or broken cells can lead to bigger problems down the line. Autophagy is our body's way of returning our cells to optimal health.
Autophagy declines as we age. Meanwhile, the frequency of cellular dysfunction and damage increases. Without autophagy, these faulty cells are allowed to multiply, which can contribute to an accumulation of cancer cells as well as other diseases and impairments. Autophagy may benefit the brain, skin and body in many ways such as:
Autophagy is activated during times of healthy and controlled stress. Your dietary choices, including WHAT you eat and WHEN you eat, can make a huge impact on the activation of autophagy and the way your body perceives and reacts to stressors. Here are 8 things you can do to kick autophagy into gear:
Here are some quick FAQs regarding autophagic function:
Want to learn more about what you can eat during non-fasting times to prime yourself for autophagy later? Check out this meal plan that's packed with healthy recipes and even more information on autophagy fasting.