Autophagy — How Your Body Detoxifies and Repairs Itself
March 11, 2016 by Dr. Mercola
While there are many different ways to rid your body of accumulated toxins, from detoxifying foods and chemical and/or natural detox agents to saunas, a biological process known as autophagy plays a key role.
The term autophagy means “self-eating,” and refers to the processes by which your body cleans out various debris, including toxins, and recycles damaged cell components.
This video link provides a more in-depth biochemical review of the autophagy processes involved in health and disease. As explained in layman’s terms by Greatist:1
“Your cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; gobble them up; strip ’em for parts; and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts.”
Dr. Colin Champ, a board-certified radiation oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains it thus:
“Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program. Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.”
By boosting your body’s autophagy process, you dampen inflammation, slow down the aging process, and optimize biological function. As noted by Fight Aging:2
“Greater autophagy taking place in tissue should mean fewer damaged and disarrayed cells at any given moment in time, which in turn should translate to a longer-lasting organism.”
Boosting Autophagy Through Exercise
Like the benefits of exercise, autophagy occurs in response to stress. And, in fact, exercise is one of the ways by which you boost autophagy. As you probably know, exercising creates mild damage to your muscles and tissues that your body then repairs, and by so doing makes your body stronger.
Exercise also helps flush out toxins by sweating, and is helpful for just about any detox program. In fact, many consider exercise a foundational aspect of effective detoxification.
Dr. George Yu, for example, who has been involved with clinical trials to help detoxify people from the Gulf War, recommends using a combination of exercise, sauna, and niacin supplementation to maximize elimination of toxins through your skin.
Exercise is an important component as it also causes vasodilation and increased blood flow. Beyond that, as noted in the featured article:
“One study looked at autophagosomes, structures that form around the pieces of cells that the body has decided to recycle.
After engineering mice to have glowing green autophagosomes ... scientists found that the rate at which the mice were healthily demolishing their own cells drastically increased after they ran for 30 minutes on a treadmill.
The rate continued increasing until they’d been running for 80 minutes.”
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Optimize Autophagy?
The amount of exercise required to stimulate autophagy in humans is still unknown, however it is believed that intense exercise is more effective than mild exercise, which certainly makes logical sense.
That said, other research has shown that the “Goldilocks zone” in which exercise produces the greatest benefit for longevity is between 150 to 450 minutes of moderate exercise per week, lowering your risk of early death by 31 and 39 percent respectively.
Spending at least 30 percent of your workout on high-intensity exercises has also been shown to further boost longevity by about 13 percent, compared to exercising at a consistently moderate pace all the time.
Following these general guidelines will likely put you in the most advantageous position for maximizing autophagy as well.
How to Radically Inhibit Autophagy
One of the quickest ways to shut down autophagy is to eat large amounts of protein. What this will do is stimulate IGF-1 and mTOR, which are potent inhibitors of autophagy.
That is why it’s best to limit your protein to about 40 to 70 grams per day, depending on your lean body mass. The specific formula is one gram of protein for every kilogram of lean body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.
Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Some vegetables also contain generous amounts of protein — for example, broccoli. Forty grams of protein is not a large amount of food — it's the equivalent of one six-ounce chicken breast.
To determine whether or not you're getting too much protein, simply calculate your body's requirement based on your lean body mass, and write down everything you eat for a few days. Then calculate the amount of daily protein you've consumed from all sources.
If you're currently averaging a lot more than what is optimal, adjust downward accordingly. The following provides a quick overview of how much protein is in various foods.
- Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6 to 9 grams of protein per ounce.
- An ideal amount for most people would be a 3-ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9- or 12-ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18 to 27 grams of protein
- Seeds and nuts contain on average 4 to 8 grams of protein per quarter cup
- Cooked grains average 5 to 7 grams per cup
- Eggs contain about 6 to 8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12 to 16 grams of protein
- If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese)
- Cooked beans average about 7 to 8 grams per half cup
- Most vegetables contain about 1 to 2 grams of protein per ounce
To be continued…
* * * * * * * *
Sources and References:
Mercola, J. (2016). “Autophagy — How Your Body Detoxifies and Repairs Itself.” Mercola.com. Joseph Mercola, published 11 March 2016. Accessed 23 August 2016.
Image Credit: Racoma, I.O.; Meisen, W.H.; Wang, Q.E.; Kaur, B.; Wani, A.A. PLoS ONE. “Thymoquinone inhibits autophagy and induces cathepsin-mediated, caspase-independent cell death in glioblastoma cells.”
<https://openi.nlm.nih.gov/detailedresult.php?img=PMC3767730_pone.0072882.g006&req=4>. Published 2013. Accessed 28 August 2016.
2, 5, 6. Fightaging.org January 7, 2016
Please call me with any questions. If ordering online, visit my Young Living website below:
Jessica Jensen LMT CST
231 Kentucky Ave. Suite 220
Young Living Essential Oils #908714