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Living Well

What Is Autophagy? 6 Amazing Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

July 12, 2023

I’m Kim.
I’m an M.D.-turned-entrepreneur and I’m dedicated to helping you build your dream career + lifestyle. Welcome to my blog, where I write (and podcast) about wellness, business + success!
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There is much hype around intermittent fasting in the weight loss world. But the process behind intermittent fasting, autophagy, has many more incredible benefits besides a slimmer waistline.

Understanding and utilizing our body’s natural process of autophagy can improve our health on a cellular level. From preventing disease to improving skin conditions to even increasing our lifespan, autophagy is something we ALL need to know about.

What Is Autophagy?

Think of autophagy as the housekeeping of your cells. This cleaning and decluttering process removes or recycles anything within us that could contribute to poor health. This includes broken proteins, worn-out cell parts, and harmful invaders like viruses.

The main job of autophagy is to ensure our cells stay healthy and function properly. It’s one of our body’s most important yet underrated functions.

Think of it like a team of street cleaners. They may appear to just be sweeping garbage, but their job is actually to find and eliminate potential hazards that could cause accidents and create traffic jams, such as oil spills and loose gravel. 

Autophagy is our body’s personal team of street cleaners seeking out and cleaning anything that could cause health problems or slow our systems down. Thanks to them keeping everything in order, our bodies can function at peak levels, which brings me to the benefits…

How Autophagy Benefits Us

Working deep in our cells, autophagy positively impacts our health in many ways, including:

  • Disease Prevention – Part of the autophagy process is to clear out aggregated proteins and damaged cells before they accumulate and lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.
  • Immune system support – Autophagy also improves our short-term health by removing viruses and harmful bacteria from our system before they get the chance to cause harm and make us sick.
  • Longevity – Physical signs of aging, like wrinkles, are due to cellular damage. As autophagy repairs and rejuvenates our cells, it can delay the internal and external aging process.
  • Skin Health – Along with cell renewal, autophagy removes toxins from our cells, reducing skin conditions like acne and promoting an overall healthy appearance.

How To Stimulate Autophagy?

As a natural process, autophagy can happen within us without us making any conscious effort. However, our dietary and lifestyle choices may inhibit or slow down this process. This means that we could unknowingly increase our chances of sickness and disease and speed up the aging process!

But fear not, as there are also several ways that we can induce and stimulate autophagy. Phew!

Intermittent Fasting

Most people who have heard of autophagy have done so due to its link with intermittent fasting. As we can hinder autophagy by eating too often, it makes sense that we can stimulate it through fasting.

Intermittent fasting often follows the 16/8 method, which means fasting for 16 hours and eating all your meals within an 8-hour window. It’s actually easier than it sounds (if you’re not a late-night snacker, that is), as you can essentially have dinner at the reasonable time of 6 pm and then have a late breakfast at 10 am the following day. 

Studies have found that IF is the most effective way to induce autophagy. This is because restricting your body of food for a short time applies “healthy stress” on your cells, forcing them to work more efficiently. 

Regular Exercise

Another common cause of an inefficient autophagy process is a sedentary lifestyle. Various studies have shown that autophagy is activated through the skeletal muscles and other organs when we exercise. Therefore, doing more exercise can easily boost your body’s autophagy power. 

Any type of exercise can stimulate autophagy, but I recommend a combination of aerobic exercises and resistance training for the best results. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, in particular, have been shown to stimulate autophagy significantly.

Fasting and exercise are just two ways to ensure an efficient autophagy process. Discover other ways to stimulate autophagy by watching the full episode on Youtube:

If you prefer an audio-only version, scroll back to the top of this post to find the podcast episode!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on autophagy! Have you heard of it before or is it a completely new concept for you? 

Let me know in the comments, or find me on Instagram and send me a DM!


Resources Mentioned:

Download my free Intermittent Fasting Tips PDF here: https://drkimfoster.com/fasting

Curious about health & wellness coaching? Watch my free workshop, How To Chart A Path To Your Dream Career As A Wellness Coach: https://drkimfoster.com/becomeacoach

Dr. Kim on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drkimfoster/


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