Beauty, Wellness, Recipes, Food
Autophagy is the key to delaying aging and possessing wellness as we age. It is the name of the process by which your body clears out old and damaged cells. Proteins, lipids, cell debris, damaged mitochondria, and other cell parts that are no longer functioning well are broken down or released from the body through autophagy.
The rate and degree to which your body engages in autophagy dictates not only how long you live, but more importantly, how well you live. It is the process that allows us to thrive throughout aging, especially as it relates to our cognition.
When the mechanisms for autophagy are overwhelmed or dysfunctional, your cells cannot function optimally, disease has more opportunity, and aging accelerates.
Significantly, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are marked by the accumulation of damaged proteins and cell debris. It is clear through research that impaired autophagy causes disease although causality is not fully understood.
We do know it is important. And to live our best life, we must support this natural process through nutrition, lifestyle, stress mitigation, and environment.
So how do you optimize autophagy?
1. Leave a 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast. This creates a window of low sugar and low insulin which triggers autophagy, especially in the liver, brain, muscle, and fat. Regular detoxing of these systems contributes to cognitive function, hormone balance, and mobility.
2. Eat plants. Enzymes used to degrade damaged cellular material require vitamin cofactors found in plants. These cofactors are necessary for autophagy. In addition, plants provide antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress which inhibits autophagy. Foods that are especially helpful to autophagy are berries, sprouts of cruciferous vegetables, green tea, turmeric, and ginger.
3. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like sugar and processed foods. Inflammation impairs the power center - the mitochondria - within your cells. Mitochondria play an important role by signaling the pathways for autophagy. When they function poorly, autophagy is impaired.
4. Exercise. Exercise increases blood flow and facilitates the release of degraded cellular material.
5. Nighttime sleep. The glymphatic system - the system responsible for performing the rinse cycle on your brain - and autophagy are extremely active during night time sleep. They work together to improve the health and function of your brain. Good sleep is supported by maintaining the circadian nature of your brain. Support this by having a regular bedtime and waking time. Go outside every morning for morning sun. Keep your meal and exercise times consistent. Routine and rhythm help you attain better sleep.
6. Reduce your toxic load by using clean beauty products on your skin, reducing chemical usage, avoiding environmental toxins, and eating pesticide free foods. The less time spent clearing these toxins means that energy, antioxidants, and cofactors can be direct to autophagy.
7. Seasonally detox with a cleanse. Occasional low calorie spurts help upregulate autophagy. This is one of the main long lasting benefits of cleanses and resets.
8. Release stress naturally with time outdoors, gentle exercise, and quiet time. Although it's not clear how, stress suppresses the immune system including autophagy. In the same way, emotional and traumatic stress inhibits autophagy. Resolving that stress is also important for longevity and youthfulness long term.
Autophagy is a wonderful way the body works to protect our cognitive ability and overall health. Modern eating and life work against this process, but if we intentional support it we make an investment in our wellness and mind longterm.
The beauty of the body is that it is never to late. Even at the point where we are seeing aging and cognitive decline, these practices can slow or stall the progression.
For more guidance, feel free to contact me.
Words to Live By
I am not a heroine, but I have chosen the person I want to be.