Autophagy – How your body detoxifies and repairs itself

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Autophagy – How your body detoxifies and repairs itself

This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  TrajanGregory 6 years, 7 months ago.

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    Story at-a-glance

    The biological process known as autophagy plays a key role in your body’s ability to detoxify, repair, and regenerate itself

    By activating your body’s autophagy process, you dampen inflammation, slow down the aging process, and optimize biological function

    Three ways to do that are eating a high-fat, low high-fiber carb diet, intermittently fasting, and getting regular exercise, especially high intensity exercise.


    The short video is a nice, basic overview of the process.

    I’m very focused on this subject matter lately … It will be the reason I continue fasting after I hit my target …

    How important to this process is the high intensity exercise because I am nearly 60, my ‘shock absorbers’ have just about had it and I have dodgy hips (due to over doing the ski machine years back)? I do daily dog walking (about 2-3 miles a day, up and down hill).

    @slimlinemoggy – I’m nearly 60 years old. 6 years ago I was out of shape and could barely use my knees, now I can easily use my knees. Exercise builds and repairs the body. You may be able to fix your ‘shock absorbers’ and ‘dodgy hips’ by using them. If you don’t use them they just get worse.

    HIIT can be worked into almost any exercise. The idea is push to the max for a short time like 30 seconds. Then give yourself time to recover and then repeat the cycle probably 4 to 8 times. If you do it right, you will be breathing so hard at 30 seconds that you won’t even be able to speak right away. The workouts are short but very effective.

    When it comes to autophagy, HIIT isn’t necessary. You can probably a lot of it by just water fasting for 3 to 4 days. So the HIIT isn’t required for autophagy but it does probably help the body along.

    I have a few exercise routines I follow.

    I use transit to commute to work (I sold off my car because I really didn’t need it). The route takes 4 different vehicles, and I often sprint between stops to make sure I don’t miss close calls. I’ve been doing this about five years.

    I also use dumbbells and a slant bench to perform a number of different lifts. I’ve used the Body Beast DVDs, of all things, to learn how to perform the lifts. I’ve been doing that for just over two years now. Atrophy had set in pretty deeply, which I only realized after the fat layers dissipated … I needed to restore my musculature, and lifting has certainly done that … So many benefits, especially from the increased metabolism it provides … But also from a self image/aesthetic perspective …

    I like to mix it up, and switch between lighter weights with many reps, usually for about 45 seconds, I will switch to heavier weights at a slower rate … I take each set to about 90% of muscle breakdown … I slant the bench to change lift angles to cover the different fiber groups over time …

    It really has been a revelation … All those years I didn’t do squat, and got fatter and fatter over decades – I also, over the same decades, lost a ton of lean muscle mass to atrophy. Now, using 5:2 IF and weight lifting and regular walking/sprinting … One can completely reverse that long term rot …

    My primary goal when I started this process was to reverse all the damage I had done to myself, since high school … I made my high school weight my target weight – I was going to purge all the guilt and self loathing I carried for so long, and I was going to erase the shame of my years of careless, ignorant degradation, but only by losing every damned ounce of weight I had gained, and restore my musculature to a basic level of fitness.

    Only then could I forgive myself, and finally, once and for all, shed myself of that guilt, forever.

    THAT is a big deal, in my world … The detrimental psychological effects of morbid obesity, the long term degradation, the self hatred of what you allowed to happen to yourself … It was very important for me to restore my human soul to wholeness by completely erasing the damage, as best as I could …

    Regarding autophagy – it’s important to recognize that there is more than one type of autophagy, and that there is always some form of it in action … Healing from injury is one example, which doesn’t cease until you have fasted 24 hours – you could never heal if this were the case. I think the point is that fasting and high intensity exercise stimulate greater levels of autophagic activity, and that it’s a good thing for the overall health of human body.

    When I say that 5:2 IF saved my life, it is not an overstatement … I ask now facing my sixties in probably the best shape I’ve ever been ….

    What more can one ask from a lifestyle? …

    TrajanGregory – I’m very confused by what you are saying about autophagy. I agree there is likely some autophagy going on all the time but often very limited amounts of it. Fasting just kicks it up to much higher levels.

    However what do you mean the healing ceases after 24 hours of fasting? I haven’t found that to be the case at all. In fact I now believe that healing is promoted by fasting. Where are you getting that information from? Personally I have had several tendon issues I just wouldn’t heal but they did heal after I started fasting. Also I have lost some scars and haven’t seen any issues with cuts healing. I often fast over 24h … typically up to 40 hours twice a week.

    Hi dykask,

    I’m sorry I gave that impressIon – I was trying to say that healing does not wait 24 hours, as in how the mTorr protein and Glucagon pathways, because those pathways do not kick in until some hours after your last meal …

    I should make clear that I am not a molecular biologist, and I am really trying to grok all of this, and wrap my head around this giant pile of information …

    To reap the greatest gains from autophagy, according to what I am hearing here. one must enter into a long term fast of at least 24 hours … Yet, as I mentioned, other forms of autophagy, like those of the body’s natural healing processes, aren’t subject to the limits places on the mTOR or Glucagon pathways …

    I am completely fascinated by this subject, but I’m still learning, like you … I’ve noticed a number of posters here have a strong grip on the current science, and I look forward to reading more from them …

    Hi Trajan,

    I see what you are saying. There are many other forms of cell death going on all the time. Probably autophagy is very limited most of the time. While I don’t have a good idea of how much happens how fast I do know that when I’m fasting there is a shift that occurs typically around 20 hours for me. I can feel it as my blood glucose drops a little low for a while and then goes back to normal over a couple of hours. In my mind I’ve been marking that as a shift into the fasted state. Before that I think I’m still mostly living off of stored glucose.

    The reason I think it is important is because the new glucose going into the blood comes from somewhere, most likely “junk” protein being harvested and likely form autophagy that probably gets started.

    While it isn’t autophagy it is interesting to realize the that body often has multiple sources for different things. For example amino acids …
    > Of coarse from proteins in food …
    > Also Endogenous … That is produced by the body
    > Also from bacteria in our gut and
    > When we force our bodies to recycle protein, for example damaged muscle fibers after a hard workout.

    There are also cells in the body that are dying all the time as they reach their end of life, for example ~4 months for red blood cells.

    Autophagy is a step above where likely hormones trigger cells to somehow “check their status” and voluntary die if they aren’t in good shape. Which then makes room for new fresh cells.

    If I fast over 3 days I start seeing the blood glucose go to levels lower than I could normally tolerate. One time I fasted a week and I was seeing my blood glucose well below normal levels and even below where I normally would feel light headed. That might be a another factor, basically starving cells that have too much dependence on blood glucose.

    Hi all,

    There is a nice description of autophagy and fasting here:

    explaining the difference between autophagy (removing cellular ‘junk’ components) and apoptosis (programmed death of the whole cell). There are other forms of cell death too (e.g., necrosis, ferroptosis), but these are less relevant in fasting.

    There’s an awful lot of research going on into mTOR signalling pathways, often as it’s involved in cancer ( but also looking at its role in regulating metabolism and protein biosynthesis. To be honest, I think there are many ‘leaps of faith’ made on some fasting websites (but not Dr. Fung’s IDM one!) about fasting, mTOR etc., that don’t reflect the current scientific debates, with their inherent contradictions and uncertainties.

    That said, I think there is a very interesting revolution in thinking underway about dietary advice in general, diabetes reversal (5:2 etc), and cancer as a metabolic disease (for example:

    I’m a Biochem PhD, following these research avenues with interest! I don’t think that there are easy answers for the whole population, but there are some quiet revolutions in behaviour happening that will work their way into the mainstream soon.

    Hello LynneD,

    First, thanks for those excellent links … There is a tremendous amount of information that is coming out of the science, and it’s pretty daunting for dabblers like myself to understand it. It’s so helpful to have members like you able to share your understanding with us.

    Second, I noted a reference to growth hormone in your first link, and that leads to this question:

    If autophagy is the dismantling of sub-cellular components for the purpose of removing aged or defective organelles, etc …

    If autophagy dismantles those cell components, then what is the complimentary process that rebuilds the damaged cells?

    I have searched but I have not yet found the name of this process, but, I am now realizing (thanks to your article) that human growth hormone plays a role in that rebuilding process …

    Again, thanks for the follow up links!

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