Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting? Part Three - Autophagy

Autophagy is......

"...a catabolic process involving the degradation of a cell's own components through the lysosomal machinery. It is a tightly regulated process that plays a normal part in cell growth, development, and homeostasis, helping to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products. It is a major mechanism by which a starving cell reallocates nutrients from unnecessary processes to more-essential processes."


In layman's terms autophagy is when cells recycle waste material, eliminate or regulate wasteful processes  and repair themselves.Sort of like your computer defragging it`s hard drive and deleting unnecessary files and processes. Why is this important?

" It’s required to maintain muscle mass, and inhibiting it induces atrophy of adult skeletal muscle. It reduces the negative effects of aging and reduces the incidence and progression of aging-related diseases..."
                                                 M Sisson

"Although fasting induces an acute increase in autophagy in most tissues, the more intriguing effect of long-term calorie restriction is to prevent an age-dependent reduction in basal or stimulated autophagy. No one seems to have a clue as to why this happens. It is clear that properly regulated autophagy (i.e. balanced by new synthesis of proteins and organelles such as mitochondria) helps to keep the interior of our cells “clean” and optimally functional by getting rid of proteins, aggregates of proteins, and organelles that have been damaged by oxidative stress or other mechanisms".

                                                 J Stone

Autophagy and Aging......

"During the aging process, free radicals . – highly reactive byproducts of our cells’ respiration – wreak havoc on our cellular machinery. Mitochondria, the tiny power plants that keep a cell functioning, are especially vulnerable to this type of damage. The effects can be disastrous – if malfunctioning mitochondria aren’t removed, they begin to spew out suicidal proteins that prompt the entire cell to die. Cell death, on a whole-body scale, is what aging is all about...."

                                                William Dunn Jr

Autophagy, Apoptosis and Cancer.....

"A cell that switches from normal growth to cancerous proliferation can also be induced to commit suicide, making apoptosis one of the most important built-in barriers against cancer."

"The functional relationship between apoptosis ('self-killing') and autophagy ('self-eating') is complex in the sense that, under certain circumstances, autophagy constitutes a stress adaptation that avoids cell death (and suppresses apoptosis), whereas in other cellular settings, it constitutes an alternative cell-death pathway. Autophagy and apoptosis may be triggered by common upstream signals, and sometimes this results in combined autophagy and apoptosis; in other instances, the cell switches between the two responses in a mutually exclusive manner. On a molecular level, this means that the apoptotic and autophagic response machineries share common pathways that either link or polarize the cellular responses...."

Autophagy and the Brain

Good for the body but also good for the mind........

"If we have leftover or damaged mitochondria just hanging out, they seem to create destructive reactive oxygen species and general mischief.....such as dementia, premature aging, cancer, and probably autism...."

"Fasting may also protect the brain from age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s....."

"It is however very clear that an adequate basal level of autophagy in brain neurons is required to prevent neurodegenerative disorders — many of which are associated with and mediated by undue accumulation of toxic protein aggregates in neurons. Indeed, drugs which accelerate autophagy in the brain have been shown to be useful in rodent models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease."
                                               J Stone

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