We’ve discussed juice cleanses here on PD (of course) from a variety of perspectives–but mostly with a note of caution that they’re not to be treated as a permanent or sustainable solution. Personally, though, I love the occasional juice cleanse to feel lighter and avoid overeating. My fav part of it is that I don’t have to spend time thinking about eating. When all the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning are taken out of my day, I have *so* much darn time to do other things! That freedom from housework combined with a lighter body leads to a great moment of reawakening for about 3 days, if not any substantial or lasting weight loss.
But I haven’t done a juice cleanse in more than a year because I’ve given up buying bottled juices/beverages (to avoid adding to our plastic waste problem). For me, making my own juice 3x a day (plus cleaning, ew) is just not worth it. If you too are ambivalent about juice cleanses but still love the feeling of lightness, there’s a new way to detox–and it’s called autophagy.
Autophagy means self-destruction (auto – self, phagy – killing). It sounds like a terrible thing to induce, but it’s actually beneficial when your body destroys old, broken, malfunctioning cells and rebuilds new and healthy ones instead. So autophagy is detoxifying on a cellular level, and there are ways to induce this process through your diet (nutrition), fasting (yep), and exercise.
- Certain foods induce autophagy due to their biochemical composition, and others help remove the debris of old cells or rebuild new ones. Stock up on Omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds, flax, and chia seeds to suppress inflammation and encourage “self-eating” inside old cells.
- Sulforaphanes instigate the breakdown of old abnormal proteins–try cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
- Avocado is rich in vitamin E, which protects healthy cells from damage. It’s also high in Omega-3.
- Legumes have saponins, an autophagy-starter. Try soybeans, peas, ginseng, yams, herbs, and yucca.
- Probiotics help remove the dead cells from the body: kimchi and sauerkraut are some excellent vegan choices.
- No processed foods, which suppresses autophagy (ugh).
- In terms of oils, avoid canola and go for coconut, avocado, olive, and macadamia.
- Wellness expert and founder of Reserveage supplements Naomi Whittel recommends drinking bergamot tea to activate autophagy. It’s also antioxidant-rich!
Certain types of stresses trigger autophagy response. Dr. Valter Longo, Ph.D. of the University of Southern California recommends semi-fasting for 4-5 consecutive days a month, eating around 800-1,100 calories within a 6 to 8 hour window only. If you find that to be a bit of a tall order (as I do–gah), try intermittent fasting of not eating for a 12 hour window at a time. That could mean eating breakfast and dinner, or skipping breakfast–whatever floats your boat. Research shows that a period of fasting helps your body repair, rebuild, and regenerate, which sounds like an expensive cream that I don’t have to spend any $$$ to get. Love!
When it comes to cell destruction and renewal, duration is important. Autophagy kicks in after 30 minutes of running, but peaks after 80 minutes according to a study published in Nature. More intensity will also stimulate this process, which kind of makes sense–when your body is being pushed beyond its comfort zone, it starts to jump start its breakdown and healing.
So what kind of benefits can you see from an autophagy regimen? You will experience increased energy and lighter bod typically associated with detoxing, but also increased collagen and elastin, plus even a boost in cognitive function and neuroplasticity. Sure, this regimen may not be for *everyone* and you may not get addicted, but for just a little bit of tweak in your daily routine, you can reap mega results both physically and mentally. This pattern of no processed foods, intermittent fasting, and endurance workout reminds me of the routine I had while hiking for several days in California, and it was a really comfortable way to give my body a boost that it craved. Back in NYC, I’ll try powering through longer workouts and semi-fasting on weekends to give my body a chance to self-heal–sounds like the plan!
Would you try an autophagy regimen? Or have you tried it and seen benefits?