The older we get, the more important it is to focus on our health. An often overlooked aspect of our wellbeing is our cellular health. This is shocking, considering our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. In order to properly take care of these cells, we need bodily functions such as autophagy. Today’s article will go over what autophagy is, how you can induce autophagy, what you can drink on autophagy, what not to drink on autophagy, and how fasting can help induce the process.
What Is Autophagy?
Autophagy is one of the body’s many essential functions. As you age, autophagy decreases, leading to cellular junk and dysfunctioning cells building up over time. You might think of it as the body’s way of cleaning house. During autophagy, your body replaces older, weak, and damaged cells with newer, healthier cells. This plays a huge role in cellular health, which becomes increasingly more important as we age.
This process can help reduce the negative side-effects of aging. The body breaks down damaged cells and recycles parts that no longer function correctly. This allows the body to create new parts or repair the damaged parts until they’re ready to contribute again.
How Does Autophagy Work?
The word “autophagy” is translated to mean “self-devouring.” Autophagosomes are vesicle structures that are caused to form by autophagy-related proteins. Once formed, autophagosomes carry cellular junk pieces to a lysosome. A lysosome breaks down and digests the junk, releasing reusable bits that can then be used by other cells to create new parts.
This cellular recycling process causes your body to make the most of its resources as cells aren’t getting fresh materials from outside sources. With autophagy, cells are forced to survive through cannibalization, leading to more efficient working cells.
How Do You Reach Autophagy?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that autophagy research is still in its infancy. Therefore, it’s difficult for us to make definitive statements regarding the process and reaching of autophagy. With that in mind, early research points towards three primary triggers:
- Caloric restrictions
- Regular Exercise
Understanding these different triggers can help you better determine your preferred method.
Fasting requires you to stop eating for a certain amount of time. During this time, your body is deprived of nutrients and is forced to function by repurposing cells. The critical activator of autophagy is nutrient deprivation. Our bodies produce insulin to help us metabolize the foods we eat. When we do not eat, our insulin levels decrease, and our glucagon levels increase, stimulating autophagy. Glucagon helps turn stored sugars into glucose when the body no longer ingests outside sources.
Processes necessary for stimulating the activity of ATGs (autophagy-related proteins) can be triggered with exercise. Depending on the type of exercise you are performing and its level of intensity, you can induce autophagy with fitness. Before beginning any vigorous or new exercise routines, it is recommended that you consult your healthcare provider first.
Calorie restriction involves a decrease in the number of calories that you consume. Instead of completely depriving your body of calories, as with fasting, you limit them. This then forces your cells to compensate for the loss of nutrients and switch into survival mode – autophagy. Calorie restriction can cause your cells to recycle and reuse their cells, feeding on themselves to attain the necessary energy units.
What Is The Purpose of Fasting For Autophagy?
Fasting as a dietary trend has boomed in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. While most simply associate fasting with weight loss, the health benefits extend far beyond a smaller waistline and lower numbers on the scale. Fasting can also help induce bodily functions such as ketosis and, yes, autophagy.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific number that begins the process. We can’t tell you “once you hit the eight-hour mark precisely, the autophagy process begins.” While that would make things much easier, the process is far more complicated. The time required during a fast will vary - sometimes greatly - depending on weight, age, biological factors, activity level, and other lifestyle habits.
Autophagy Benefits That Go Beyond Weight Loss
Disruptions to the autophagy process through poor diet or constant calorie intake can contribute to the growth of abnormal cells. Abnormal cell growth may also lead to further health issues that can include the development of various diseases. Diseases that can occur include infectious and neurological diseases, diabetes, and even cancer.
Fortunately, autophagy removes infectious and toxic viruses and bacteria when functioning correctly. Autophagy also has been shown to support heart health by decreasing the risk of oxidative stress through the elimination of cellular debris. Additionally, it can help battle inflammation by mobilizing fat that has been stored in the liver and in other areas of the body.
What Can You Drink While Fasting For Autophagy?
A question we often get asked in regard to fasting is “what to drink while fasting?” This often confuses people, as they think a fast means no consumption of food or beverage. While water fasts exist, the most common forms of fasting - such as the 16-8 diet, for example - allow you to drink beverages with no or very little caloric content. Some of those beverages include:
Experts highly recommend staying hydrated while fasting. This means drinking plenty of water. Try to avoid sports drinks, however, as they are often sneaky with the calories.
Drinks That Can Boost The Effectiveness Of A Fast
Staying adequately hydrated while fasting is necessary for your health but may also be essential for boosting the effectiveness of your fast. Some drinks may promote cellular detoxification, gut cleansing, and ketosis. And best of all, these drinks won’t break your fast.
Spring And Mineral Water
Regular, sparkling, and mineral water are all fine to drink when you are fasting. However, when fasting, you're constantly flushing out water which can lead to an imbalance in electrolytes and mineral deficiency. Spring and mineral water can help you to replenish what you have lost and keep you from experiencing any imbalances.
Furthermore, you can also add a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt to a glass of water. Consuming iodized rock salt can also provide your body with some iodine, helping to prevent hypothyroidism and promote proper thyroid function.
Aside from tasting great, herbal teas can also be beneficial for helping to curb hunger while fasting. Herbal teas are also useful for detoxifying and other medicinal purposes. Green tea is great for heart and brain health and supplies a small amount of caffeine useful for fat burning. Black tea is also beneficial for the heart, as well as for digestion and stress levels.
Jasmine is good for immune system strengthening, lowering cholesterol, and may help prevent diabetes. Peppermint tea aids in digestion and reduces inflammation and muscle pain. And Chamomile is great for calming upset stomachs and promoting sleep.
While a cup of tea may have between 1 to 5 calories, it is not enough to destroy your fasted state. However, you should avoid brewing teas with additional elements that may contain carbohydrates (berries, fruit, etc.) The sugars contained within may have just enough to halt the beneficial effects of autophagy.
Rose water is another excellent way to aid your digestive system without breaking your fast. Rose water can be combined with saffron to help reduce those tempting impulses to eat. Rose water can also keep you cool if you find yourself fasting in the summer months.
Rose water is also packed with beneficial vitamins. Rose water contains vitamins A, C, D, E, and B3. Rose water also contains zinc, tannins, and citric acid.
Add In A Little Baking Soda Or Pink Salt
Research shows that baking soda can be used in more than just your cooking. Adding a teaspoon of baking soda to your water can assist with boosting physical performance and overall health. Other health benefits of adding a little baking soda to your drink include:
- Aids with digestive issues
- Helps to relieve constipation and bloating
- Kills off bad bacteria and parasites
- Aids in reducing fatigue and muscle soreness
- Helps neutralize gut acidity
- Helps balance your body’s pH levels
A pinch of pink salt in your water can also aid your body in numerous ways. Sodium is a key ingredient in energy production, electrolyte balance, healthy blood pressure, and the firing of nerve impulses. Sodium deficiencies can lead to muscle cramping, brain fog, fatigue, water retention, and more.
What Not To Drink When Fasting For Autophagy?
Another commonly asked question is whether or not coffee is acceptable during a fast. Yes and no. Black coffee with no sugar, no cream, or no milk is acceptable. In fact, it has been reported that drinking coffee and tea without adding sugar, milk, and other additives may increase autophagy.
If you can pull off such a task - drinking black coffee, that is - then you may also find that coffee can be a potent appetite suppressor, which can help you keep your mind off of food. However, some people may have an adverse reaction to caffeine on an empty stomach. Therefore, it’s hard to recommend coffee to those fasting.
Nobody knows you better than you. If you think you can handle coffee on an empty stomach, have at it. While black coffee won’t break a fast, coffee with loads of creamer or milk, sodas, shakes, smoothies, and certain juices will.
What Breaks A Fast In Autophagy?
Properly breaking a fast is just as important as the fasting process itself. Going without food for most of the day, then stuffing your face at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet isn’t going to have the effect you were hoping for. Some of the foods you should eat to break a fast include:
- Dried fruits
- Fermented foods
- Healthy fats
Breaking a fast with healthy foods like the ones mentioned above will help your body better tolerate food. This allows you to slowly ease food back into your diet without your body feeling overwhelmed.
What Are Signs Of Autophagy?
Fasting to achieve autophagy can be a difficult task. After all, who likes to deprive themselves of the opportunity to raid the fridge in the middle of the night? But results are often the best motivator. Understanding the signs of autophagy can help you know that everything you’re doing is working. Some of the signs include:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved fitness
- Better sight
- Faster wound healing
- Improved skin health
- Reduced loose skin
- Better mental wellbeing
- Improved mental clarity
Precautions For Achieving Autophagy
While there are several health benefits associated with autophagy, it is essential to remember that not everyone may be equipped to handle the methods used to stimulate and achieve it. Adolescents, older adults, pregnant women, and people with a history of eating disorders may be at more risk than benefit. Additionally, individuals with underlying health conditions (such as diabetes) should also reach out to their doctor before making any changes in their diet.
Fortunately, modifying your diet is not the only option for stimulating autophagy. An increase in physical activity can also help stimulate autophagy. It may be a safer option for individuals who run a risk if they begin to alter or restrict their diet. Whatever you choose, it is always best to confer with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise routines.
Supplements May Help
Changing your lifestyle to help promote autophagy can help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life. That’s why we recommend a healthy regimen of spermidine supplements. Spermidine helps induce the autophagy process but is challenging to consume through diet alone. At spermidineLIFE®, we offer the world’s first award-winning spermidine supplement to ensure you’re always getting the most out of your body!