Quick Tips to Initiate Autophagy
Autophagy is an essential contributor to longevity and healthy life.
In this post, I share my experience on a real life challange that took me over two decades to achieve. I solved the problem with awareness, acceptance, tips from scientific studies, and dedicated effort by taking personal responsibility.
A Brief Introduction to Autophagy
The natural self-eating process built in our bodies eliminates our zombie cells, viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and harmful proteins. Self-eating is a miracle of the human body. Research studies reveal this pleasant mystery and the paradox of eating useless parts of our bodies. The process is called autophagy in science. Autophagy studies are intense in medicine and healthcare, especially for longevity, metabolic health, and cancer research.
Autophagy is a method our bodies use to clean damaged cells and generate newer and healthier ones. When I learned this, I experienced autophagy for dealing with excess skin caused by rapid fat loss, as mentioned in a story titled Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Loose Skin? I observed my experience using various experiments. These experiments allowed me to improve my health conditions.
My purpose is to introduce autophagy briefly and give you three practical tips to initiate it. First, it is essential to know that the instability of damaged cells may cause critical health risks. They may affect our body's homeostasis. As I mentioned in a story, health is all about homeostasis. In addition, autophagy is critical for skeletal muscle homeostasis, as highlighted in a study. It means that our body needs autophagy to maintain muscle mass.
Autophagy is a catabolic process. This process recycles intra-cellular damaged organelles, misfolded and mutant proteins, viruses, and bacteria to maintain cellular health. Consequently, autophagy is essential for the clearance of problematic organelles and unnecessary proteins in the body.
Researchers in various disciplines such as human biology, anatomy, and neuroscience have been conducting studies on autophagy. The topic has become popular recently after the significant contributions of Yoshinori Ohsumi, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2016. His research explained the molecular and morphological mechanisms of autophagy.
Here are the three lifestyle factors that can help us activate autophagy effectively and naturally. However, it is crucial to consult your medical professionals before undertaking fasting, intense exercise, and sauna as they might cause some health risks for some of us. Please note that this article is not health advice. I share my research and personal experiments for information only.
1 - Water Fasting
Fasting is an efficient and natural way to initiate autophagy. Several research studies have proven that caloric restriction and time-restricted fasting regimes could activate autophagy. I try both intermittent and long-term fasting giving me various health and fitness benefits. Fast-mimicking diets have also become popular.
Studies indicate long-term fasting, especially three to seven days, might bring better results. However, time-restricted eating, such as intermittent fasting in the form of one meal a day, is also believed to initiate mild autophagy. Besides, intermittent fasting is more manageable and poses fewer health risks than long-term fasting.
An outstanding paper titled Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications published in Cell Metabolism showed the benefits of fasting for autophagy. Another insightful study by Kuma and Mizushima examined the physiological effects of autophagy for intracellular recycling system, emphasizing nutrient metabolism.
2 - Intense Workouts
Apart from fasting and caloric restriction, another autophagy-inducing mechanism is exercise. According to a study, exercise induces autophagy in peripheral tissues and the brain.
I shared my exercise regime when I intended to initiate autophagy as a mix of aerobic and anaerobic in a book chapter introducing three joyful exercises for low-fat, lean muscles, and dense bones. It is important to make workouts joyful, regular, and sustainable by building healthy habits.
Regular movement creates useful stress for the body and mind. Unlike chronic stress, acute stress is healthy as it contributes to fitness, strength, and flexibility. Exercise creates acute stress with deliberate workouts. In addition, acute stress can initiate autophagy. Anaerobic workouts such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), weightlifting, resistance training, and calisthenics allow us to activate autophagy.
3 - Dry Sauna
The excessive heat of the sauna can be effective for initiating autophagy. In addition, the sauna is an enjoyable pastime activity and has many health benefits, such as turning on longevity genes, relaxing muscles, improving heart, and cleaning toxins.
According to a paper in Frontiers in Physiology, acute heat exposure alters autophagy signaling in C2C12 myotubes. Researchers suggest that an acute, short bout of mild heat may benefit skeletal muscle by increasing AMPK activity, markers of autophagosome formation, and the heat shock response.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, heat therapy plays a potential role in improving autophagic function in health. The study underlines that impairments in autophagy are central to the pathogenesis of many conditions, including metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, diabetes, and aging.
I significantly improved my health and fitness by eating one meal a day, performing joyful workouts, and using a dry sauna regularly. These activities helped me experience autophagy. This valuable process was reflected in my specialized blood markers and physical appearance. More specifically, getting rid of my excess skin after losing substantial weight was evidence for me.
Before awareness of autophagy-inducing activities, I tried several methods that did not work to eliminate my loose skin over a decade. Getting rid of loose skin was an exceptional achievement for me as no one believed it could be removed naturally. Personally, it was an absolute pleasure to notice the muscle definition in my abdominal area with this hard work. Thus, I share this incredible experience with my readers.
So, creating a lifestyle with time-restricted eating, intense exercise, and supplementing heat therapies can be excellent approaches to initiate autophagy. I also heard about some herbs creating hormetic effects, but I did not experiment with them, so keep an open mind about their efficacy. I plan to post other methods and various health benefits of autophagy in future articles.
Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a happy and healthy life. The original version of this article is published on another platform. If you enjoy writing, you can join Vocal as a creator to find your voice and reach out to a broad audience. I also write on Medium and NewsBreak.
About the Creator
Dr Mehmet Yildiz
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.
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