Back in 2016, a scientist from Japan named Yoshinori Ohsumi won the greatest prize of the scientific community, “The Nobel Prize” for his work in the field of Physiology and Medicine. His work was about the research conducted on the autophagy in the yeast. The study revealed that short periods of fasting actually has positive and healthy effects on the renewal of body’s cells as well as they slow down the process of aging.
We heard about this study of Yoshinori Ohsumi and could not wait to let our readers also know about it. So learn the work of Yoshinori Ohsumi which explains as to how fasting slows down aging which won him the Nobel Prize.
Can human body’s cells eat each other?
As a matter of fact, cells in body eat each other up all the time. This process where the utilization as well as the renewal of the body’s unnecessary cells occurs is referred to as Autophagy. This term autophagy comes from the Greek language which translates to a word “Self-eating”. The process of Autophagy helps the body to rid itself from all of the unwanted organelles which are the dead of the damaged cells. The end of these unwanted cells is utilized for building of the new cells for future.
Such working of the cells was discovered almost 60 years ago but quite recently the study of autophagy in yeast was conducted. The main achievement of Yoshinori Ohsumi was to identify the genes that were able to do this autophagy process. These genes are found actually in lots of living organisms and humans are one of them.
The benefits of the Self-eating by cells
As we explained a little earlier, the purpose of the autophagy in body is to renew the body as well as combating infections and draining the harmful toxins. The irregularity in the process of autophagy has been linked with many of the following serious disorders.
- Type 2 Diabetes
It is discovered that the infected cells in body try to eat the bacteria with the same proteins and uses the same mechanism which is used for the renewal of cell.
If the medical science somehow discovers a method of influencing the process of autophagy for the cancerous cells, then the body can be tricked into thinking of these cancerous cells to be the damaged cells and then destroy them on its won without having being assisted with treatments like Chemotherapy.
The other application of influencing the autophagy process would be to stimulate it in the elderly people which would slow down their aging process.
How does self-eating of the cells are influenced by Fasting?
When a person fasts, the levels of glucose in blood drops down significantly and this also slows down the insulin production that is tasked with delivery of the glucose to all the bodily tissues, which also slows down.
When this happens, the body realizes that the supply of the healthy nutrients has been stopped and it goes into the survival mode. This survival mode means that the production of glucagon starts which is the key chemical for activating the process of autophagy.
This is the natural defense reaction of human body which works by ending the life of cells present in the body to start receiving nutrients from within the body.
Were the positive effects of fasting known to mankind before?
The positive effects that come with fasting have been known by the human beings for a very long time. The Bible has described the 40-day fasting period from both Moses and Jesus. Persian civilization refused to eat for nearly 50 days. In the modern times, billions of Muslims undergo fasting for nearly 30 days in the holy month called Ramadan.
Herodotus has written that ancient Egyptians too underwent 3 days fasting period for the recovery of systemic health each month. Well-known philosophers and researchers of ancient times like the following, all underwent fasting on the regular basis.
- Leo Tolstoy
Aren’t there side effects of fasting like slowed down metabolic rate and the loss of the muscle mass?
Well, there are few side effects to fasting but only If it is for prolonged period of time like slow metabolic rate. But if a person fasts for a time period in-between 12 to 72 hours, their metabolic rate actually starts increasing. This increase is connected with the release of stress hormone named Noradrenalin which is the hormone that controls feeling of hunger.
The very same rule also applies for the loss of muscle mass. Researchers made findings that in cases of short-term fasting causes the production of growth hormone in high levels which starts getting energy from burning the internal fat tissues.
The other functions of growth hormone are anabolic as well as anti-anabolic which means that it prevents the destruction of the muscle mass.
The proper way for keeping a Fast
Keeping a fast is a tricky business and one should consult their doctor before doing it. The average time limit for keeping a fast should be about 8 to 12 hours which results in burning of all carbohydrates that a person consumes first which were preserved in the form of Glycogen. After this is done, the autophagy process activates, so this gives the time period of keeping a fast to be about 12 hours.
As for the 3-day fasting method, it can harm the body as the cells won’t be receiving their necessary microelements that can weaken the immune system as well as causing the internal organs to work irregularly.
Diets for Short-term fasting
The most renowned diet for keeping a fast is named as ‘5/2 diet’. A British journalist by the name Michael Mosley invented this diet back in 2012. During this diet, person needs to eat food like usually for 5 days and then reduce their diet to about 500 kilo calories in women and 500 kilo calories men, for the next 2 days. Also this calorie consumption must be carried out in only 2 meals per day.