Fasting and caloric restriction, if done correctly in a healthy and appropriate manner, combined with a healthy diet can have tremendous benefits for the human body. Interventions like fasting are gaining tremendous amounts of popularity, and that is in large part due to the fact that this information is being spread across the world via alternative media outlets and independent websites, youtube channels, etc. It’s not really a health topic that we’re hearing from mainstream media sources or our federal health regulatory agencies. Why? Because you can’t make money off of fasting. Perhaps when drugs are developed that mimic the effects of fasting, that’s when its popularity will skyrocket; but unfortunately, modern day health authorities don’t really seem to be as concerned with our health and wellbeing as they are about profiting and making money, and nobody is going to make any money if people starting eating less. That being said, the information revolution cannot be stopped, and fasting is now on the minds of many, and for good reason.
On October 3rd, 2016, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy, a term that translates to “self-eat.” In short, autophagy is the body’s self-cleaning system, a mechanism in which cells get rid of all the broken down, old cell machinery (organelles, proteins and cell membranes). It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components.
The process of autophagy is like replacing parts in a car—sometimes we need a new engine or battery for the car to function better. The same thing happens within each of our cells. During autophagy, old cellular debris is sent to specialized compartments within the cell called “lysosomes.” Lysosomes contain enzymes that degrade the old debris, breaking it down into smaller components to be reused again by the cell.
Scientists have found that fasting for 12 to 24+ hours triggers autophagy, which is thought to be one of the reasons that fasting is associated with longevity. There is a large body of research that connects fasting to improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved brain function, and Oshumi’s findings provide greater insight into this research.
“Sporadic short-term fasting, driven by religious and spiritual beliefs, is common to many cultures and has been practiced for millennia, but scientific analyses of the consequences of caloric restriction are more recent… short-term food restriction induces a dramatic upregulation of autophagy in cortical and Purkinje neurons. As noted above, disruption of autophagy can cause neurodegenerative disease, and the converse also may hold true: upregulation of autophagy may have a neuroprotective effect.
Food restriction is a simple, reliable, inexpensive and harmless alternative to drug ingestion and, therefore, we propose that short-term food restriction may represent an attractive alternative to the prophylaxis and treatment of diseases in which candidate drugs are currently being sought.”
If you look at the plethora of studies that’ve been published regarding caloric restriction and fasting, the benefits are overwhelming. These benefits are seen across the board, not just in humans, but in animals as well. Some of these benefits are talked about below in a fascinating interview and discussion between Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Guido Kroemer. Dr. Patrick, as her website states, “is dedicated to the pursuit of longevity and optimal health and shares the latest research on nutrition, aging, and disease prevention with her audience. She has a gift for translating scientific topics into understandable takeaways for all levels of education and interest.” She has a lot of great content on her Youtube channel with some very interesting people who are leaders in their respective field.
Dr. Guido Kroemer is currently a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris Descartes, Director of the research team “Apoptosis, Cancer and Immunity” of the French Medical Research Council (INSERM), Director of the Metabolomics and Cell Biology platforms of the Gustave Roussy Comprehensive Cancer Center, Deputy Director of the Cordeliers Research Center, and Hospital Practitioner at the Hôpital Européen George Pompidou, Paris, France. He is also a Foreign Adjunct Professor at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
The takeaway here is to recognize the potential of dietary interventions for certain ailments. It’s also to recognize the importance of seeking out knowledge and wisdom, and not just relying on your doctor for advice or prescription medications.