Autophagy is the process by which our cells remove dysfunctional components and cellular waste, recycling damaged proteins. Hence, restoring normal cellular function known as homeostasis.
The fibroblasts, the cells that are responsible for production of collagen and maintaining the structural framework of our tissues, accumulate debris overtime till they can no longer keep up. This slows down Collagen production, resulting in advanced signs of aging and skin sagging. Essentially, aging happen due to decreased autophagy which literally means self-eating (the body eating cell debris for energy).
How do we trigger the body's autophagy?
Autophagy generally happens overnight when we are in deep sleep. That is the time when the body detoxes, resets, and rids itself of debris. That is only possible if we get adequate sleep along with water intake, antioxidants and nutrients that allow for the waste recycling to happen.
If you eat late in the evening, it is highly likely that autophagy won't take place. Additionally, if your food intake and the products you apply on your skin includes toxins, that could overload your cells preventing autophagy.
Here are the ways that can help you trigger autophagy:
1- Intermittent fasting: research has proven that the fastest way to reboot and restore pathways to autophagy is caloric restriction. Fasting contributes to the formation of corneocytes & sebum, protecting cells against stress factors, reducing inflammation, and increasing the elimination of aging cells making room for newer healthier ones.
A standard fasting window is 16 hours. So if your last meal in the evening is at 6 pm, your first meal the next day should be at 10am. You may extend the fasting window slowly.
The sweet spot though, according to studies, is 24 hours with a peak at 48 hours. This can be done every other month or so to eliminate cellular waste and reboot your system.
2- Antioxidants such as Glutathione and Green Tea aid the process. It is highly recommended to sip organic green tea during your fast. Berries (Ellagic Acid) and garlic (Caffeic Acid) will boost Collagen regeneration. More about Collagen in this blog.
3- Anti-inflammatory foods such as Turmeric and Ginger reduce inflammation optimizing the process.
4- Supplements such as Niacinamide, Resveratrol and Quecetain help activate the Sirt l protein, allowing for new collagen formation.
5- Microneedling is the only topical procedure that has been known to stimulate autophagy in our cells. This needs to be done correctly by a professional. I am not a fan of the rollers as they can cause damage and irregular collagen production. Please refer to this blog for more details on Microneedling.
6- A clean skincare routine, rich in plant oils and Niacinamides, is highly recommended to maintain skin elasticity during this process and reduce the toxic load on the body while our cells detoxify.
7- Vitamin-C: there isn't a function in the body that isn't supported by Vitamin C. It is essential to protecting the collagen while authophagy is occurring. It is best to get it from fruits and vegetable (abundant in citrus fruits). Alternatively, you can boost your levels with a synthetic supplement if your plant food intake is minimal.
I recommend your read up on the healthiest ways to introduce intermittent fasting to your life. I have learned a great deal from Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Mark Hayman. They have great content on YouTube, and fantastic informative books that will change your life, and outlook on aging and overall health.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!