Healthy Choices

Scientist shares what fasting does to our bodies

March 20th, 2019

There’s a scientific process that is quickly gaining attention and it’s a way for people to lose weight, look younger, and live longer.

If you haven’t heard of ‘autophagy’ lately, you’ve been missing out on all the hype–but the hype is there for good reason. Autophagy is the process of natural regeneration in our bodies–it literally comes from the Latin ‘auto’ meaning ‘self’ and ‘phagy’ which is ‘eat.’ Self-eat. It sounds strange and a little gross, but there are some serious benefits and it can be triggered by fasting.

Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize in 2016 for his research and findings on the process of autophagy. It was also extremely insightful to the likelihood of contracting diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, and cancer.

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Autophagy help keeps our body stable. With the help of lysosomes (which degrade intracellular material), our bodies are able to break down different proteins, transform them into amino acids, and create more cells.

This is, in essence, a form of a cellular “cleanout.” The body identifies old and less-than-ideal cellular materials and marks it for destruction. It’s the accumulation of all these yucky, old cells that cause disease as well as the effects of aging.

Ever since his research was complete, companies have been trying to create drugs to replicate the process of autophagy. However, there is a way to do this naturally–fasting.

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Dr. Ohsumi, as well as diet and fitness experts, say that fasting (along with a combination of restricting carbohydrates and high-intensity exercise) turns on our bodies’ autophagy process.

“Certainly the evidence from experiments in mice suggest that would be the case,” Dr. David Rubinsztein, professor of molecular neurogenetics at the University of Cambridge and UK Dementia Research Institute told BBC.

“There are studies where they have switched on the process using genetic tools or drugs or fasting, and in those cases the animals tend to live longer and be in better overall shape.”

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Although it’s been proven that fasting does, in fact, turn on the autophagy process in mice within 24 hours, it’s not yet clear how long humans should exactly fast in order to turn it on.

But given the uncertainty behind the details, it has been proven that autophagy can be turned on by fasting and has incredible benefits on many levels.

Autophagy was actually discovered in the 1960s but did not catch on in popularity until Yoshinori Ohsumi’s research throughout the 1990s.

“What we’ve discovered is that it protects against diseases like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and certain forms of dementia,” said Dr. Rubinsztein.

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Books that have recently gained in popularity that focus around the autophagy process and fasting include the ‘5:2’ and ‘Fast’ Diets–making changes to diet and lifestyle.

Fasting in excess is, of course, not a good idea. And if you’re considering a fasting diet, consult with your doctor first to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

So, what types of fasting are there anyway?

24-Hour Fasting

This type of fasting is pretty self-explanatory. One day a week, you would not eat for a full 24 hours. For example, you’d have breakfast on a Tuesday but would not eat again until the same time on Wednesday.

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Intermittent Fasting

With this type of fasting, you would cycle in and out of periods of eating and not eating. This could be within one day, within one week, or a combination of both. Find out more about intermittent fasting here.

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Do your research and find out if fasting is something you should try. It could help you shed some pounds, have more energy, promote cell repair, protects against diabetes, improves memory, promotes longevity, and so much more.

Learn more about Dr. Ohsumi’s incredible findings as well as more on autophagy here.

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H/T: Brightside