People go on cleanses with the goal of flushing toxins out of their systems, but it turns out your body can detox itself through a process called autophagy. You can activate it by making a few small changes to your routine, without having to resort to a juice-only diet.
Autophagy is the consumption of the body’s own tissue in a process that removes and recycles the junk in your cells and repairs the cell damage that naturally accumulates, replacing old cells with new ones.
This maintenance can help with weight loss, promote healthy aging, regulate cell metabolism and homeostasis, and in general, keep your body and brain strong. When your cells function at peak performance, so do you.
But certain factors (like too many calories, poor sleep, lack of recovery, and exposure to toxins like plastics and preservatives) can hinder these repairs. When our cells don’t clean themselves properly, that can lead to a slow metabolism, inflammation, and achy muscles and joints.”
Kickstart the process of autophagy with these three strategies.
Fast for five days each month.
Certain types of stress, like fasting, trigger autophagy. To do this you should to semi-fast for four or five consecutive days each month. On those days, you eat between 800 and 1,100 calories in a six- to eight-hour window, sticking mostly to vegetables and lean proteins like chicken and fish.
Following this plan can lower blood pressure, ease inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth hormones that encourage cell reproduction. Depriving the body in this way gives cells a chance to rest, rebuild, repair, and regenerate, which it struggles to do when you’re eating more.
When fasting, you should limit your carb intake to 30 grams per day. This amount will trigger the fat-burning process of ketogenesis, which activates autophagy even more.
Add these six foods to your diet
Certain compounds prove particularly potent for firing up autophagy. The below foods put the process into high gear.
Eggs: They’re rich in sphingolipids, which work to keep cell walls strong.
Salmon: The omega-3 fatty acids suppress inflammation and stimulate “self-eating” in some cells.
Cauliflower: Compounds called sulforaphanes can turn on processes that degrade old abnormal proteins.
Avocado: It’s rich in vitamin E, which protects tissue from damage caused by free radicals; and vitamin K, which helps prevent blood clotting.
Legumes: These are high in saponins, plant chemicals that activate autophagy and stimulate your immune system.
Sauerkraut: The probiotics aid in digestion by sending signals and removing damage from cells.
Extend your workouts to 80 minutes when possible
When it comes activating autophagy, exercise duration matters: A half-hour treadmill run can induce the process, but it peaks after 80 minutes of running. The more intense the workout, the stronger the effects. But also low-impact resistance training (consisting of a 10-minute warm-up and leg presses, bicep curls, and pec deck flyes) can also stimulate autophagy.