This year’s(2016) Nobel Prize in Medicine has gone to a Japanese scientist Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his research on AUTOPHAGY.
Autophagy, an Intracellular Recycling System otherwise means “eating self”. In other words, the process by which the human body eats it own damaged cells and unused proteins. Autophagy is a natural process and also one which occurs in cases of starvation. The failure of autophagy is one of the main reasons for accumulation of damaged cells which eventually leads to various diseases in the body. Autophagy is important to prevent/fight cancer and also plays a vital role in degrading and ‘consuming’ cells infected by bacteria and viruses.
We have to observe here that ancient India had recommended a practice of fasting (Ekadasi) one day in a fortnight. Many of us religiously follow this practice to this day as a penance for spiritual progress without any idea of the biological and therapeutic benefits of this practice. Through this process of fasting induced autophagy, our body repairs it’s damaged and degenerated cells or uses up the proteins of the damaged cells for its survival.
Whenever modern science conquers a frontier in any field, it somehow relates back to a quaint spiritual practice followed in India for generations.
A day in a fortnight spent in prayer and divine contemplation was a tonic for t mind and soul while the practice of fasting ensured that the body would heal and rejuvenate itself. ~ Forward
This is in essence a form of cellular cleansing. The body identifies old and substandard cellular equipment and marks it for destruction. It is the accumulation of all this junk that may be responsible for many of the effects of aging.
Fasting is actually far more beneficial than just stimulating autophagy. It does two good things. By stimulating autophagy, we are clearing out all our old, junky proteins and cellular parts. At the same time, fasting also stimulates growth hormone, which tells our body to start producing some new snazzy parts for the body. We are really giving our bodies the complete renovation.
In the 1980s, American longevity re-searcher Roy Walford found out that animals and cells that only get 70 % of their normal food intake live longer. Since 2010, more and more publications have described the positive effects of fasting in cell cultures and animal models: Fasting allows cells to defend themselves better against all kinds of oxidative damage and become less prone to inflammation. Fasting cells go into a kind of protective mode and activate genes that trigger self-repair and regeneration.