FDA Disclaimer....this information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.
Have you ever heard of "autophagy"? I'm guessing most of you have not and I only came across it recently in my own research so I thought I would share this with you.
Before I can describe what autophagy is, let me first set the stage....
With as much research as I do about all things beneficial physical and mental well being, one arena I never stepped into until a few months ago was "intermittent fasting". I had read here and there about fasting rebuilding the immune system but was too busy researching other topics for fasting to grab my attention.
And honestly, my appetite was too big to consider fasting as something I realistically commit to! What I didn't know was why the appetite was so big!
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is where you eat your meals in an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours each day. Once acclimated to this eating pattern, many will shrink the eating window and increase the fasting window.
Basically, it means skipping breakfast except for coffee or tea or lemon water. That was THE aspect I never thought I could do. I love my scrambled eggs and ham!
About 22 years ago I had learned about going low carb as a lifestyle through the Atkins Diet and dropped 30 pounds in 8 weeks with no exercise. Since then I had avoided processed sugars and carbs as a lifestyle but I didn't know how intermittent fasting was even more critical to health than cutting carbs.
So in these last two decades, I've seen my weight slowly increase and I found it nearly impossible to replicate the experience I had with simply going low carbs. And I'm not overweight and never have been, but I simply don't like carrying an extra 20 pounds or so. Avoiding processed carbs and not having carbs as my main diet served me well, but with age, deficiencies in my overall lifestyle we showing up!
What was the deficiency? The timing of the food. I was simply eating meals or snacking from breakfast until bedtime and that was spiking insulin for too long each day. The end result has been insulin resistance to a degree (I'm not diabetic or pre-diabetic), resulting in possibly fatty liver, low testosterone, elevated estrogen, and the inability to drop weight. It may also be the reason I wear glasses and other nuisances that most all of us just attribute to aging when really they may be related to insulin being too present too often for too long everyday.
So now I do "intermittent fasting" most days and I'm seeing the results primarily in the elimination of hunger in the middle of the night, mental clarity, less need for sleep, etc... And I just had a blood/urine test for life insurance and the results were outstanding!
At the risk of sounding weird, "autophagy" means "self-eating"...from Wiki....
"Autophagy (or autophagocytosis) (from the Ancient Greek αὐτόφαγος autóphagos, meaning "self-devouring" and κύτος kýtos, meaning "hollow") is the natural, regulated, destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components."
We already know that body mass will grow and shrink for a variety of reasons. For example, muscles grow with use and shrink with lack of use. Body fat can be increased or decreased. When something in the body shrinks, it's because the body made it so, it harvested itself for nutrition, energy, or simply excreted the excess.
Autophagy is simply a deeper look at what the body is capable of doing for self-healing.
So when I would see a headline about how fasting regenerates the immune system in a matter of days, I think that in part the regeneration is simply that autophagy has been triggered somehow by fasting, that fasting is either a requirement for autophagy or provides an increase in autophagy activity.
From what I can gather listening to a variety of experts, during fasting, when the body is looking for a source of nutrition or energy, perhaps the first place it looks is at that which is not needed or wanted by the body. Recycling.
Certainly, cancer cells are known to be malfunctioning cells. In fact, cancer cells are known to only be able to consume glucose for energy for survival and growth, where properly functioning cells are able to use both glucose and ketones, which are derived from fat.
So the research is pointing to the body intentionally consuming malfunctioning cells during fasting in its search for nutrition and energy before consuming cells that are ok like
While the autophagy is being triggered by fasting, something also exists that makes life miserable for cancer cells....a lack of glucose!! So it appears that while the cancer cells are struggling from lack of glucose, autophagy kicks in and these cells are harvested for recycling.
This to me sounds like the "immune system" is active and that fasting is the trigger. Who would've thought? But how many of us lose our appetite when sick? How many cancer patients lose their appetite when sick? Is the body guiding us to enter into fasting for healing?
I've even seen where the autophagy mechanism recycles excess skin of those that have lost a lot of weight.
Autophagy really is a fascinating topic and knowing that this process is triggered by intermittent fasting, it's easy for me to endure the want for food when skipping breakfast.
This is a link to a YouTube video that provides a nice introduction to autophagy and some background to it's discovery. From there you can find more videos about autophagy and intermittent fasting possibly being an alternative cancer cure (or prevention too!)
Over the years, I been told that carbs are addicting, that sugar once a long time ago was nearly outlawed as being an addictive drug, and so on.
And I also saw with my experience with going low carb that the cravings and incessant hunger disappear in a few days so I didn't see the "addiction" aspect because recovery from the addiction was so fast. The "addiction" model didn't work for me. It had to be something else.
So in my research, I came across other voices on this topic and came up with my own model...
For animals that hibernate, their fat gain actually comes from devouring massive amounts of fruit! I guess they are super hungry, right?? And I found this article about the diet of bears, citing that some bears may eat 200,000 berries a day. Doesn't that sound like a voracious appetite....for a purpose....for the purpose of intentional weight gain?
So my theory is that our physiology for
whatever reason, has this trigger too, that when fruits (and processed carbs) are eaten, it signals the body that fruits are in season and the body then promotes the gluttonous consumption of carbs for the purpose of rapid weight gain while fruits are available in preparation for the cold winter's sleep.
That's fine, but the problem is that we humans are inventive and we have created a food supply that makes carbs available year round! In other words, our DNA programming is matched to our historical environment not our current technology.
The end result? We trigger the body to be in fat-accumulation mode 365 days a year simply by eating a diet rich in carbs, especially simple carbs. So more and more, the average person is simply ready for a hibernation that never comes because we don't actually hibernate. We keep eating carbs everyday, an unnatural way for us to live.
And what is present during hibernation? FASTING and recycling of body mass for nutrition and energy, aka, autophagy.
Simply put, eat carbs to trigger fat accumulation mode. Avoid carbs to trigger fat depletion mode. Period. I learned this with Atkins but again was missing the healing aspects of fasting.
It appears that foundational to our health is our conscious decision to NOT eat carbs as our main food, to definitely not eat processed carbs, and to give the body a break from all food for most of the day. As soon as too many carbs are eaten too often, voila, the voracious hunger for more carbs is triggered because the body is now in fat-accumulation mode. If "happiness" was ever truly a decision, THIS is the decision....to avoid carbs, especially fruits and processed carbs, unless weight gain is your goal.
For more information, simply search YouTube for these topics. The keywords "autophagy cancer" will yield many videos with the latest research! Enjoy!