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Fasting and autophagy: an alliance for health and longevity

Diet and exercise

Imagine being able to give your cells a broom and a garbage can to clean up and rejuvenate themselves.

Well, this process exists and is called autophagy . A term that derives from ancient Greek and means "to eat oneself" .

Simply put, autophagy is an internal recycling system that allows cells to eliminate damaged proteins and dysfunctional organelles. A fundamental process for health and longevity, as it promotes cell regeneration, prevents aging and reduces the risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

One of the most effective ways to activate autophagy is fasting . When the body does not receive food, an energy saving process is triggered which leads to the degradation and recycling of unused or damaged cellular components.

Intermittent fasting , which alternates between periods of food intake and periods of fasting, is a popular method for stimulating autophagy. Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may have numerous health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Improved metabolic health
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Protection against neurodegenerative diseases
  • Cancer prevention
Diet and exercise

In addition to fasting, other factors can activate autophagy, including:

  1. Physical exercise: Physical activity helps stress cells in a positive way, promoting the activation of autophagy.
  2. Calorie restriction: Reducing overall calorie intake can stimulate autophagy.
  3. Bioactive compounds: Some substances, such as curcumin, resveratrol and spermidine, can activate autophagy and enhance its benefits.

Autophagy research is still ongoing, but the results so far are promising. Activating autophagy could be an effective strategy to slow cell decline and promote a long and healthy life.

Autophagy is a natural and fundamental process for the well-being of our body. Fasting, intermittent fasting, exercise, calorie restriction, and intake of certain bioactive compounds can be effective strategies to activate autophagy and enjoy its health and longevity benefits.

Cellular regeneration , therefore, represents a vitally important biological function, acting as a defense mechanism against the accumulation of cellular damage that can lead to disease and premature aging . Interestingly, this process not only helps maintain the integrity of cells but also promotes constant renewal within the body, thus supporting vitality and overall health.

This natural “cellular cleansing” mechanism can be influenced by various lifestyle habits, with fasting emerging as one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.

Fasting not only activates autophagy but also encourages a variety of physiological responses that can improve metabolic health, reduce inflammation, and boost the body's defenses against chronic disease.

Interest in fasting as a therapeutic tool has led to the popularity of several forms of intermittent fasting. These include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8-hour interval, and the 24-hour fast, practiced one or two days a week, and the Fasting Mimicking Diet, with cycles of 5 days every 3-4 months.

These approaches make fasting a more flexible and sustainable option for many people, allowing them to experience the benefits of autophagy without having to adopt prolonged fasts, which may not be right for everyone.

In addition to fasting and exercise , the importance of a diet rich in nutrients and specific bioactive compounds emerges as another pillar in promoting autophagy.

Foods rich in antioxidants , polyphenols and essential nutrients can support the autophagy process and offer additional protection against oxidative damage and cellular aging.

Substances such as curcumin, found in turmeric, resveratrol found in red grapes, and spermidine, found in foods such as mushrooms and legumes, have been identified as potent activators of autophagy.

It is essential to approach fasting and autophagy stimulation with awareness and caution . Not all people may benefit from these practices equally, and in some cases, they may be contraindicated.
Therefore, before starting any form of fasting or significant dietary change, it is always advisable to consult a health professional .

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