Most of us know that fasting is good for us - it triggers our body's ability to clean and renew its own cells, known as autophagy.
But the problem is that fasting isn't so easy for everyone.
Some of us have busy social and professional commitments that make it difficult to avoid eating.
Others, like me, have hypothyroidism which means that our bodies think we are going into a sustained period of starvation when we begin to fast, and in their wisdom try to protect our ability to survive by down regulating our metabolism and making it difficult for bioavailable T3, one of our key thryoid hormones, from attaching to the receptors in our cells. At the same time, our bodies adrenal glands will increase cortisol production as a way to better regulate blood sugar, but this can lead to chronic inflammation and decreased production of melatonin. If that weren't bad enough, all that extra cortisol has to be made from another key hormone, progesterone, which helps us sleep, but also helps balance out our estrogen levels.
I think you can see why some of us would be highly motivated to find ways to trigger autophagy without having to fast!
Luckily, we can use our diet to do this. By going on a ketogenic diet where 75% of our caloric intake comes from healthy fats and 5-10% comes from carbs is a great way to trigger autophagy.
Examples of healthy fats would be Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), grass-fed ghee, grass-fed butter, Medium Chain Trigylcerides (MCT's) including caprylic acid, or C8. The fats keep you sated, but importantly they provide ketones which can service over 70% of the brain's energy requirements.
Autophagy & The Keto Diet
And for those of you who think going keto is going to be really hard, well, I've got news for you: you have already been in ketosis and you never even noticed it!
What am I talking about?
We are all *born* in ketosis. That's right. When we are in our mother's wombs we are in ketosis. And we continue to remain in ketosis when we are breastfed by our mothers.
There have even been studies showing that the ketone receptors in the brains of Alzheimer's patients are still fully functional, whereas the gylcogen receptors don't seem to work as well and are even covered by a biofilm preventing gylcogen from attaching to its receptor and getting into the brain cells.
I hope I've made it clear that healthy fats are good for you. And olive oil and fish oils are my top choices.
I personally also love grass-fed ghee, which does not have either the lactose nor the casein proteins (A1 and A2) that many can be allergic to. However, for those of you who have done your 23andme.com tests and know you have 1 or 2 of the APOE4 genes, you will need to avoid saturated fat due to increased risk for neurodegenerative issues. Olive oil and fish oil by contrast will help you.
You can find more inspiration by going to visit our friends over at KetoDiet blog for recipes and information (no affiliation, just friends!).
Another way you can trigger autophagy without fasting is through intense exercise. I'm not talking about running a marathon. As a matter of fact, you can do some pretty time efficient exercise by using weights for resistance training incorporated into your circuit training.
Again, I feel the Japanese have really got this one nailed with the Ka'atsu device, which uses Blood Flow Restriction and Moderation to build muscle, increase growth hormone and nitric oxide in as short a time as possible. There are beauty benefits from this as well with Japanese aestheticians incorporating this into their spa offerings to enhance blood flow to skin, hair and nails.
Another great hack you can use is Dr John Jaquish's X3 Bar which allows you to use both your own body weight and some extremely strong, durable and (even for the strongest of you) challenging resistance bands. These are hooked to a unique metal bar which moves such that you can't put too much strain on the weakest load-bearing link, in this case, your wrists.
Most OsteoStrong bone building clinics in the US also carry them for use on-site as they are great for building muscle but you should also be able to purchase them there as well.
Autophagy & Sleep
Sleep is another great way to induce autophagy. It has been shown that when we get fragmented sleep, we stop the body's ability to induce autophagy. Uninterrupted sleep is another challenge as we get older and underscores the importance of taking the time to exercise which has been shown to positively influence sleep, wind down properly away from blue-light emitting devices which keep our cortisol levels up while suppressing production of the sleep hormone melatonin and using up stores of progesterone which also help us sleep.
Finally, we can add spermidine-rich foods to our diet such as Japanese fermented natto, which can be bought at Japanese and Asian markets and mature cheddar cheese. A kilo of cheddar cheese will contain 100mg of spermidine, a naturally occurring polyamine that has been shown to trigger autophagy in mice. Wheat germ also contains high amounts of spermidine, which we bring from Japan to use in Primeadine, our nutritional supplement to help support autophagy naturally.