5 Proven Ways to Boost Your Body’s Natural Process of Cellular Maintenance
As we enter our 30s, it’s natural to start thinking about our health and well-being a little more seriously. One important process that can have a big impact on our overall health is autophagy.
What is autophagy, you ask?
Simply put, it’s the body’s natural process of disposing of unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components (taking out the trash) and maintaining homeostasis within the cell. But what exactly is homeostasis? It’s the process that helps our body maintain a stable and healthy internal environment, kind of like a thermostat in our house that helps to keep the temperature at a comfortable level. Maintaining homeostasis is important for our body to function properly and stay healthy.
So, how does autophagy work to maintain homeostasis within the cell?
By degrading and recycling damaged organelles and proteins. Organelles are small structures within our cells that perform specific functions, like the mitochondria which produce energy. Proteins, on the other hand, are the building blocks of our body and perform a variety of functions, such as helping with cellular structure and communication.
During autophagy, the cell recognizes and targets damaged organelles and proteins for degradation and recycling. This process helps to clear out unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components and can contribute to maintaining homeostasis within the cell. For example, let’s say a cell has a mitochondrion (an organelle that produces energy) that is damaged and not functioning properly. During autophagy, the cell can target this damaged mitochondrion for degradation and recycle its components to be used in the synthesis of new, functional mitochondria. This helps to maintain the overall health and function of the cell. In addition to degrading damaged organelles, autophagy can also target and degrade damaged proteins. For example, a protein may become damaged due to oxidative stress or other cellular stressors. During autophagy, the cell can target this damaged protein for degradation, clearing it out of the cell and preventing it from accumulating and potentially causing further harm.
Now that we have a better understanding of what autophagy is and how it works to maintain homeostasis within the cell, let’s talk about some of the ways we can induce autophagy in our own bodies.
There are several methods that have been shown to increase autophagy, including:
- Fasting: Intermittent fasting has been shown to stimulate autophagy. There are several methods of intermittent fasting to choose from, including the 16/8 method (restricting eating to an 8-hour window), the 5:2 diet (eating normally for 5 days and restricting calories on the other 2 non-consecutive days), Eat-Stop-Eat (a 24-hour fast once or twice a week), and the Warrior Diet (eating a small, nutrient-dense “undereating” meal at night and a larger “overeating” meal during the day).
- Exercise: Moderate-intensity exercise has been shown to increase autophagy in muscle cells. While the specific amount of exercise needed may vary, it’s generally recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.
- Caloric restriction: Reducing calorie intake can also stimulate autophagy in a variety of tissues.
- Certain medications: Some medications, such as rapamycin, have been shown to induce autophagy. Some plant compounds: Plant compounds like curcumin, epicatechin, and resveratrol have also been shown to increase autophagy.
- Supplement: Certain supplements like nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) have been shown to activate autophagy in cells by increasing the levels of NAD+
It’s worth noting that while autophagy has many potential benefits, it is still an active area of research and not all of the effects of inducing autophagy are fully understood. It is also important to speak with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Some potential benefits include:
Improved cellular function and overall health:
As mentioned earlier, autophagy helps to clear out damaged or dysfunctional cellular components, which can improve the overall function and health of the cell.
Some studies have suggested that inducing autophagy may increase lifespan in certain organisms.
Improved metabolic health:
Autophagy has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of obesity and other metabolic disorders.
Reduced risk of certain diseases:
Autophagy has been linked to a reduced risk of several diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as certain cancers.
Improved cognitive function:
Some research suggests that inducing autophagy may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Again, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine, as inducing autophagy may not be appropriate for everyone and could potentially have negative effects in some cases.