Fasting Research Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine. Is it Right for You?
The 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Japan’s Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of the underlying mechanisms of a physiological process called autophagy. Autophagy is a natural process by which the body degrades and recycles damaged cells, proteins and toxins. Autophagy comes from two Greek words, auto meaning “self” and phagy meaning “to eat.”(1)
This is the body’s way of cleaning house. It happens during starvation, calorie restriction, and fasting. If the body fails to engage in autophagy, damaged cells and structures can accumulate dangerously. Autophagy is one method that the body uses to naturally neutralize cancer cells and degrade cells infected by harmful bacteria and viruses.
Dr. Ohsumi was able to identify the genes that regulate autophagy and has linked disturbances of autophagy to a host of degenerative diseases. In each of his studies, he used starvation to trigger autophagy. Starvation has long been identified as a trigger for the breakdown and clean-up of toxic cells and debris. (1)
Studies have actually shown that cells live longer and mitochondria make more energy in times of starvation, fasting, or calorie restriction, compared to when eating regularly. (2,3) Other studies suggest that regular fasting or calorie restriction (without starvation) can naturally hack the aging process in numerous ways. Calorie restriction has been shown to boost levels of nitric oxide, a Nobel prize-winning molecule that delivers essential rejuvenation and detoxification to the body. Calorie restriction has been shown to boost antioxidant and detoxification activity by activating Nrf2 pathways, and also have anti-inflammation effects. (2)
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