My experience of a 36 hour Autophagy Fast

Anyone who reads this blog will know it's all about the wide and varied theme of ways to 'nourish the skin you're in'.  In this particular post I detail some of the key takeaways from my experience of an extended fast and some of the  documented health benefits. 


Now, first up I want to be clear, I don't particularly like this term 'fasting', it sounds like an insurmountable, scary, unwieldy beast. I was chatting to my friend, Cherry earlier today who had a more succinct and accurate term for it - 'window of eating'.Check out Steven Bartlett's  The Diary of a CEO episode with fasting expert Dr Mindy Pelz for an inspirational interview on the reasons to and benefits of fasting. It is free and ultimately, available to everyone.

Last week I decided to test the water with an 'autophagy fast', after many times not eating after 7pm and next day until 11am, I wanted to try something for much longer to stimulate a process called 'Autophagy. I undertook an 'Autophagy Fast' using the free version of the app, 'Body Fast'.

Autophagy refers to a period of time when the clearing out of damaged or unnecessary cellular components, is induced at an accelerated rate.and the promotion of the generation of new healthy ones - faster too. The process acts like a self-cleaning mechanism that removes unwanted or unnecessary cellular materials, including proteins, organelles, and even pathogens.

While autophagy occurs naturally in the body, it can also be stimulated through certain lifestyle interventions such as fasting. Fasting or caloric restriction triggers autophagy as the body turns to recycling cellular components.

The reason for me undertaking the fast was in a bid to find some answers to Osteoarthritis (OA) pain in my big toe. The autophagy fast meant I didn't eat for 36 hours last week - starting 8pm Tuesday and 'break-fast' at 8am Thursday. 

 “In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

According to science, Autophagy has several potential benefits for the body.

Here are a few reasons why it can be advantageous:

1. Cellular health: Autophagy helps maintain the health and vitality of our cells by clearing out dysfunctional components. By removing damaged proteins and organelles, it promotes cellular homeostasis and prevents the accumulation of harmful substances.

2. Improved cellular function: By recycling cellular components, autophagy provides building blocks for the synthesis of new molecules, such as proteins and lipids. This helps in optimising cellular function and enhancing energy metabolism.

3. Enhanced immune response: Autophagy plays a crucial role in the immune system by eliminating intracellular pathogens. It helps engulf and degrade viruses, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms, thereby enhancing the body's ability to defend against infections. Now this is what I am interested in. It is now evidenced that OA can be linked to plaque deposits and periodontal pathogens that leech from teeth and gums into joints. Sounds gross but it seems it is a reality!

4. Neuroprotection: Autophagy has been linked to the maintenance of brain health and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. It helps clear out abnormal proteins, like amyloid plaques, which are associated with conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

5. Anti-aging effects: Autophagy has been implicated in the regulation of the aging process. By removing damaged cellular components, it may help slow down aging and delay the onset of age-related diseases.

Here's 4 ways in which fasting can potentially benefit the health of skin health:

1. Reducing inflammation: Fasting has been found to reduce systemic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to various skin issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. By reducing inflammation, fasting may help improve the overall condition of the skin.

2. Enhancing cell regeneration: Fasting triggers as we now know, the cellular process called autophagy, which is responsible for clearing out damaged cells and promoting the generation of new healthy ones. This process can help improve the overall health and appearance of the skin.

3. Balancing sebum production: Fasting can help regulate sebum (oil) production in the skin. Excess sebum production can lead to oily skin and acne. By reducing sebum production, fasting may help in achieving clearer skin.

4. Promoting detoxification: Fasting allows the body's organs, including the liver and kidneys, to rest and rejuvenate. This can enhance the body's natural detoxification process, leading to clearer and healthier skin.

N.B. Please do not fast if you have issues with eating and or are pregnant or breastfeeding or have diabetes. If you're on medication then seek medical supervision before doing it.

 Key takeaways.

 1. I realised I snack mindlessly. I have since stopped snacking and no, life isn't now joyless. Knowing the reason I can now stop mindless snacking.. is the direct result of fasting.

2. I understood this idea of eating in windows and that during a 36 hour period fast (Tuesday 8pm thru Thursday 8am) the windows are actually quite small as I was sleeping for over half of the fasting period! So mind over matter is key.

3. It was hard but I was doing it for my toe - I  think it was important to have a goal.

4. It really is a way to be more conscious of the way we consume in general - not just food.

5. I felt POWERFUL and confident.

6. I felt bloody hungry but keeping WELL hydrated was key and it made me realise that we're often thirsty when we think we're hungry. I sniffed the All Around Eyes Elixir which gave me great comfort.

7. I've since, doing the fast, decided to choose food more mindfully minimising processed foods and choosing whole foods where possible.

8. It's made me realise just how much sugar is in processed food and how it wasn't like this generations ago. It was the advent of convenience food which saw high fat foods relegated in favour of low fat factory made alternatives which in turn meant more 'flavour' enhancers and added sugar...and now metabolic syndrome is a growing issue for society. It makes me sad to think how much more sugar kids of today now eat compared to my generation growing up.

9. I felt pretty elated to have finished something I'd perceived to be really difficult.

10. I practiced a yin yoga video at bed time to get me off to sleep

11. My toe didn't improve - however I think it will with continued intermittent fasting - 'eating windows'. I lost weight around my face.

What I will do differently next time:

1. I would fast for a similar time - perhaps even a little longer.

2. Drink more black coffee I only had one cup I'd make sure I had at least 3-4 cups over the course of the fast.

3. Drink carbonated mineral water with fresh lime infused water to replace minerals and for the vitamin c. Take a no sugar electrolyte tablet during the fasting window and break my fast with coconut water which is a natural electrolyte drink, rich in electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Electrolytes are needed during a fast to maintain the proper balance of fluids in the body and to support various physiological functions. 

4. I'd go to sleep earlier

5. I'd definitely do the yin yoga before sleep very non strenuous hold poses.

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