You ever Google how much of our “recycled” trash actually gets recycled?
The other day I was tossing some plastic bottles into my recycling bin and I got curious.
So I looked it up.
Check this out: only 9% of the plastic you throw into your recycling bin actually gets recycled.
The other 91% ends up in your local landfill with the rest of your garbage and usually ends up in the ocean.
Plastic takes 400 years to degrade, so it’s not going anywhere soon, either.
Our bodies, on the other hand, come with an evolutionary recycling system that is much more efficient.
It’s called autophagy, which literally means “self eating” in the original Greek.
If you’ve never heard of autophagy before, it is going to blow your mind. It is absolutely fascinating.
Autophagy is the process of breaking down and reusing garbage and broken parts that build up inside our cells.
It really is a cellular recycling program.
But here’s the best part...there are ways that you can hack it and get better cognitive performance, immune response, and longevity.
Let me explain why that is.
Your body is made up of trillions of cells.
Inside every single one of them are thousands of processes they use to keep you alive.
However, these processes not only create waste in the form of proteins and organelles, but they also wear down the various components and parts of your cell.
When your body detects that the cell is operating inefficiently, it triggers autophagy.
Now, here’s why autophagy is so fuckin’ cool.
When autophagy is triggered, your cell starts tagging the different parts and junk for destruction.
It organizes all the little pieces that need to get recycled.
Then, the cell creates this giant, search-and-destroy sack of acid called a lysosome.
The lysosome goes through the cell and literally eats all these broken parts and waste proteins.
It digests them all and then shits them back out inside the cell as amino acids, sugars, and other carbohydrates.
These new materials can be used as fuel for mitochondria or to build new molecules that the cell needs.
But so what? That’s a nice piece of trivia and all but why does it matter? How can we use this knowledge to benefit us in other ways?
Well, it turns out that if you can increase autophagy, there are tons of different health benefits.
For example, increased autophagy is associated with longer life.
Autophagy is a powerful anti-inflammatory process.
It also has potent anti-cancer properties, it improves insulin sensitivity, it blocks neurodegenerative diseases, and so much more.
But even more interesting, is that increased autophagy promotes higher cognitive function and also allows for the creation of new neurons in the brain.
So the next question is: how do you increase autophagy?
It turns out that fasting is one of the most powerful triggers of autophagy.
When the cell detects that it doesn’t have enough nutrients, it triggers autophagy.
This is perhaps the single greatest reasons why eating strategies like intermittent fasting (IMF) have become so popular.
Of course, the fact that IMF promotes whole body fat oxidation could be another reason.
Here’s a quote from a study out of the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, that sums up why this is the case:
Because animals, including humans, evolved in environments where food was relatively scarce, they developed numerous adaptations that enabled them to function at a high level, both physically and cognitively, when in a food-deprived/fasted state.
If you think of the timeline of human evolution, we’ve only had access to virtually unlimited food for a few decades.
For the rest of humanity’s existence, we have gone through periods of fasting when food wasn’t plentiful.
Even more importantly, we had to develop the skills necessary to find food in this depleted state.
Our bodies are literally built to work the best when we are starved for nutrients.
This is why many high-performing Silicon Valley entrepreneurs use intermittent fasting to increase autophagy in order to get a cognitive edge.
On top of all of this, caloric restriction is also shown to increase ketone bodies, which are shown to promote cognitive benefits and also reduce depression.
I can tell you from my own personal experience, fasting has allowed me to take my career, ideation and creativity, work output, and energy levels to the next level.
Many people know that I eat one meal per day. All of these benefits are one of the primary reasons why I’ve worked so hard to develop this discipline.
I encourage all of you to look into this, read the studies I’ve linked here, and experiment with this on your own.
Live Like a Lion
- Mike Rashid King
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