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  • Are you looking for the fountain of youth? Ok, maybe not the fountain, but a natural way to keep your body younger, longer?

    There is a way to harness your body’s antiaging forces and by the end of this discussion, I will tell you how and explain the biology behind why it works.

    There is a natural cellular process that works to keep your cells young that starts slowing down as we age. It’s called macroautophagy, and it keeps cells working their best throughout your life. Further, there is a way to keep it going as you get older.

    If you’re interested in keeping your body healthy as you age, I’ll tell you how it works and how to make it work for you.

    I am not a Guru. I’m probably the least disciplined person in your circle. The only reason we do this research and make these discussions is to learn. I want to improve myself. I want to be more disciplined. I want to optimize my physical health, my mental health, spiritual health and financial wealth.

    If that sounds like something you’re into, please download ThePEP app in your iPhone App Store or Google Play and follow me @PEPProfile.

    When you want to make your home feel fresh, one of the first steps you take is to clean up! Your cells do the same thing, tidying up through a process called autophagy.

    Autophagy is how your body recycles pieces of cells into components that can be used to build new cells, generate energy, or create needed proteins.

    Autophagy turns old or sick cells, bacteria, and intracellular organelles into molecules that the body can use however it needs.

    Macroautophagy is the most extensively studied form of autophagy. It’s when a cell forms a membrane around the unwanted pieces and then combines with a special vessel called a lysosome to digest the leftover molecules.

    Through macroautophagy, cells can reuse amino acids, fats, and carbohydrates for whatever your body requires. Throughout this discussion, I’ll use macroautophagy and autophagy interchangeably to talk about how your cells keep themselves clean, youthful and running smoothly.

    Autophagy is happening all the time in your cells, constantly working to remove any intracellular organelles that aren’t working right and keep the cell’s metabolism humming along. It also removes things that can be damaging to the cell, including pathogens and molecules that are toxic at high levels.

    For example, during exercise autophagy reduces oxidative stress and inflammation by breaking down damaged cellular components so they can be replaced.

    Since it’s part of healthy cellular function, macroautophagy is an important part of normal cell maintenance and processes like growth and healing. Rates of autophagy decline as we age and are correlated with signs of aging in cells and in the body.

    Higher levels of macroautophagy can support faster exercise recovery, anti-aging, and general health. However, when autophagy rates are low or get out of whack, it can be bad for the body.

    For example, some medications for chronic viral diseases disrupt autophagy and are associated with early onset of age-related disorders, such as artery hardening, diabetes, and inflammation in the brain.

    Research suggests that restoring autophagic function reduces these effects to help patients live longer, healthier lives.

    Doctors aren’t sure exactly how yet, but autophagy appears to play a role in healthy glucose metabolism. Low autophagy rates are common in patients with diabetes and are a warning sign for progression to type II diabetes in patients with prediabetes.

    Researchers are investigating ways to bump autophagy levels in these patients to slow the progression of the disease.

    Dysregulated autophagy processes are implicated in cancer, but the story there is a little more complicated. While autophagy can promote anti-tumor immune activity to fight cancer, some tumors are able to harness the process to fuel their own growth.

    As happens with many cellular processes, some cancers hijack autophagy for their own purposes.

    That said, high levels of autophagy alone do not cause cancer and evidence suggests that promoting normal autophagic activity can help prevent cancer and reduce signs and symptoms of aging.

    Do you want to fire up your anti-aging autophagy processes right now? Get moving! Studies have repeatedly shown that macroautophagy levels jump immediately with exercise and stay up for a few hours following physical activity. Regular aerobic exercise, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, raises overall autophagic levels long term.

    Exercise produces oxidative stress that can damage cellular components. During exercise, your body uses autophagy to get rid of oxidative damage, along with any cells and cellular organelles that aren’t keeping up.

    If you’re looking for another way to amplify your autophagic processes, a dietary fast can provide a major boost. Food restriction kicks autophagy into high gear – basically, it tells your cells to go into a cleanup mode so they can recycle any damaged or unused parts into fuel for energy and building blocks for critical proteins.

    Fasts of 24-48 hours are most effective for ramping up autophagy, but shorter fasts can provide benefits as well. Avoid fasting much more than two days, as autophagy rates begin to drop again when the body goes into extended starvation mode and this can derail your results.

    If you’re interested in starting a fasting practice, remember to follow doctor recommendations and start slow to build up to your optimal fast time!



    In 2017, a research team at Duke University led by Dr. Paul Yen investigated markers for aging in the skeletal and heart muscle of mice. Mice were used in the study so that the researchers could easily track changes in the cells over the lifespan of an individual and because at the cellular level, mice and humans have highly similar biology.

    Their goal was to better understand what happens in muscle cells that lead to declines in strength and metabolism as we age.

    They knew that they wanted to focus on autophagy since it is critical for maintaining healthy muscle cells and previous studies have shown declines in macroautophagy in other cell types in the body with age.

    They found that macroautophagy decreases in both skeletal and heart muscle cells with age, causing an excess of unusable protein structures to build up in the cell. These changes were associated with decreased cellular metabolism and increases in mitochondrial dysfunction.

    This study demonstrates that macroautophagy keeps the muscles in your heart and body strong and suggests that maintaining higher levels of autophagy can help slow aging processes.

    STUDY B 

    Many doctors are researching how to amp up autophagy to fight disease. The most common tactic? Get that heart rate up!

    In 2013, a research team led by Jong-Shyan Wang at the Healthy Aging Research Center of Chang Gung University in Taiwan wanted to investigate ways to increase autophagy levels in adults.

    They recruited 30 adult men who were generally healthy but did not exercise regularly. They randomly divided them into three groups of ten. The first group engaged in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with 3-minute exercise and recovery intervals for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 5 weeks.

    The second group engaged in continuous moderate-intensity activity for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, for 5 weeks. The final group didn’t change their routine to include exercise.

    Cells were collected from each participant before and after the exercise programs and tested for autophagy levels. The researchers also measured other indicators of cardiovascular health, such as cardiac output and peak performance.

    They found that while HIIT gave the most cardiac benefits overall, both exercise programs greatly increased macroautophagy levels over the men’s original reading and over the group still sitting on the couch.

    Simple summary – working out increases autophagy levels to keep cells functioning as they should!


    • Autophagy is how your body cleans up cells and recycles materials for optimal function.


    • It helps clear out unneeded proteins, old cells, and even pathogens from your system.


    • It’s happening all the time in your cells but decreases with age.


    • Macroautophagy is when a cell forms a membrane around the unwanted pieces and then combines it with a special vessel called a lysosome to digest the leftover molecules.


    • Low autophagy levels are associated with heart disease, cancer, neurological disorders, and early aging.


    • Lack of physical activity and poor diet can slow autophagy rates.


    • Exercise and short fasts raise healthy levels of autophagy, to keep your cells acting younger, longer.



    How will you be maximizing the benefits of macroautophagy for your health? Let me know in the comments!

    If you enjoyed this content please go to your iPhone App Store or Google Play and download the ThePEP app. You can follow me there at @PEPProfile. By doing so you’ll qualify to win free hoodies, t-shirts, backpacks, and hats each week. Thank you for being a part of PEP Profile. If you’re not yet a member but would like to join the discussion you can also request an invite at PEPPROFILE.COM


    Guo, M.-L., & Buch, S. (2019). Neuroinflammation & pre-mature aging in the context of chronic HIV infection and drug abuse: Role of dysregulated autophagy. Brain Research, 1724, 146446.

    McCormick, J. J., King, K. E., Dokladny, K., & Mermier, C. M. (2019). Effect of Acute Aerobic Exercise and Rapamycin Treatment on Autophagy in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Adults With Prediabetes. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 43(7), 457–463.

    Meijer, A. J. (2019). Autophagy in practice: stevia and leucine. Autophagy, 1–1.

    Tukaj, C. (2013). The significance of macroautophagy in health and disease. Folia Morphologica, 72(2), 87–93.

    Zhou, J., Chong, S. Y., Lim, A., Singh, B. K., Sinha, R. A., Salmon, A. B., & Yen, P. M. (2017). Changes in macroautophagy, chaperone-mediated autophagy, and mitochondrial metabolism in murine skeletal and cardiac muscle during aging. Aging, 9(2), 583–599. doi:10.18632/aging.101181

    Weng T-P, Huang S-C, Chuang Y-F, Wang J-S (2013) Effects of Interval and Continuous Exercise Training on CD4 Lymphocyte Apoptotic and Autophagic Responses to Hypoxic Stress in Sedentary Men. PLoS ONE 8(11): e80248.

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