“In 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi, won the Nobel Prize in “Physiology or Medicine” for his discoveries around something called autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.”(1)
The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning “self”, and phagein, meaning “to eat”. Thus, autophagy denotes “self eating”. Autophagy is the body’s internal recycling program – scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, warding off infection and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, it helps protect against conditions like diabetes.
One of the best ways to induce autophagy is through an “Intermittent Fast, or IF.” It takes a lot of energy to digest food and certain foods more than others. Our digestion rate is based on several things like basal metabolic rate and what we’ve eaten. But in general meat and fish can take as long as two days to fully digest. The proteins and fats that meat contain are complex molecules that take longer for your body to pull apart. By contrast, fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, move through your system in less than a day. In fact, these high-fiber foods help your digestive track run more efficiently in general.
The breaking down of all food (among other things) creates oxidation and free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues in a process called “oxidative stress.” The vitamins and minerals the body uses to counteract oxidative stress are called antioxidants.
According to Functional Medicine Dr. Stephen Cabral, the benefits of intermittent fasting are as follows:
- Weight loss. We are talking about a natural weight loss, where your body actually taps into body fat to lose weight.
- Lowered blood sugar levels. Lowered blood sugar decreases insulin, which in turns helps to decrease things like cortisol, estrogen, etc. Also decreases midsection fat.
- Speeds up metabolism. Who doesn’t want a faster metabolism?
- Promotes longevity (10-20% longer life). By allowing for processes of natural detoxification, and reduction of inflammation to occur.
- Better control hunger signals (Hunger vs. Cravings). An empty “stomach,” is true hunger (4-5 hours after last meal). A craving is usually a blood sugar issue.
- Improves detoxification because the body is now a scavenger for free radical’s and allows time for the liver to cleanse the blood.
- Improves brain energy/clarity because extra energy goes to your brain instead of your stomach. Shown to improve conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease.
- Improves your overall immune system by killing existing cancer cells, necrotic tissues, and cancer cells just starting out. It kills sick cells, microbes, and also helps prevent premature cell death.
- Lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation, because you do not have as many free radicals in your body. Most all diseases are related to inflammation in the body.
- Helps clear up skin based issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema that are caused by dirty blood, yeast overgrowth, and bacteria.
So how do you do an intermittent fast?
I prefer a once a week 24-hour fast, and here’s why. A simple 24-hour fast lasts from dinner-to-dinner, or breakfast-to-breakfast, whatever you like. For example, I eat a light dinner around 6 pm on Sunday evening and then I fast until the next day’s dinner at 6 pm. In this regimen, I do not actually go a full day without eating since I am still taking one meal on that ‘fasting’ day. I have a plain, “Daily All-in-One Support Shake” for breakfast and another for lunch. I also drink at least 8 glasses of water and several cups of green tea throughout the day to help my body “feel full” and push all of the toxic waste out of my system. I begin every day (and have for years) with a smoothie for breakfast. So every day from dinner to lunch I am doing an 18-hour fast.
If a 24-hour or 18-hour fast is too much, then a simple 12-hour fast can be a great way to start. Essentially, you stop eating after dinner and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning, making sure there is at least 12 hours between meals. This simple 12-hour fast can help regulate blood sugar, burn fat, and improve mental clarity.