What is Autophagy and Why Should You Care

What exactly is autophagy and how does it affect your body

What is Autophagy and Why Should You Care, integrative steps

You may have heard the term autophagy in relation to health and wellness topics such as intermittent fasting, weight loss, aging, and disease prevention.

But what exactly is autophagy and how does it affect your body?

What is Autophagy and Why Should You Care?

Autophagy is a Greek word that means “self-eating”. It is a natural process that occurs in your cells, where they break down and recycle their own components. Think of it as a cellular cleaning service that removes the old, damaged, or unwanted parts of your cells and uses them to create new and healthy ones.

Autophagy helps your cells function optimally and prevents the accumulation of waste and toxins. Autophagy is essential for your health and well-being.

It plays a role in many aspects of your physiology, such as:

Energy metabolism

  • Autophagy helps your cells switch from using glucose (sugar) to using ketones (fat) as their main source of energy. This can improve your insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, and weight management. Inflammation and immunity. Autophagy helps your cells fight off infections, viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also helps your cells regulate inflammation, which is a key factor in many chronic diseases.

Aging and longevity

  • Autophagy helps your cells repair DNA damage, prevent oxidative stress, and maintain cellular quality control. It also helps your cells clear out senescent cells, which are old and dysfunctional cells that can cause aging and disease.

Neurodegeneration and cognition

  • Autophagy helps your brain cells eliminate harmful substances that can impair your memory, learning, and cognitive function. It also helps your brain cells produce new neurons and synapses, which are essential for neuroplasticity and learning.

Cancer prevention and treatment

  • Autophagy helps your cells remove mutated or abnormal cells that can lead to cancer. It also helps your cells respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy by enhancing their survival and resistance.

As you can see, autophagy is a vital process that supports your health on multiple levels.

However, autophagy is not always active in your body. It can be determined by several factors, such as:

  • Diet

Eating too much or too often can inhibit autophagy, as it keeps your cells in a constant state of growth and energy production. On the other hand, eating less or less frequently can stimulate autophagy, as it triggers a cellular stress response that activates the recycling process.

  • Exercise

Physical activity can induce autophagy, as it increases the energy demand and oxidative stress of your cells. This prompts them to clean up and repair themselves to cope with the exercise challenge.

  • Sleep.

Adequate sleep can enhance autophagy, as it allows your cells to rest and rejuvenate during the night. Lack of sleep can impair autophagy, as it disrupts the circadian rhythm and hormonal balance of your cells.

  • Supplements

Certain natural compounds can modulate autophagy, either by mimicking the effects of fasting or exercise or by directly activating the molecular pathways involved in the process. Some examples are resveratrol, curcumin, green tea extract, quercetin, berberine, and spermidine. Always check with your healthcare provider before beginning any supplement regiment.

To optimize your health and wellness, you may consider incorporating some of these strategies into your lifestyle to boost autophagy levels.

However, keep in mind that autophagy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a complex and dynamic process that needs to be balanced according to your individual needs and goals. Too much or too little autophagy can have negative consequences for your health.