Autophagy: The Insiders Secret to Health and Beauty [Episode #411]
Welcome to the Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder. Our goal is to help you be your most healthy, confident, beautiful and happy! Our topics focus on health (physical, emotional/mental and spiritual), wellness, holistic nutrition, beauty, meditation, spirituality and personal empowerment.
Feeling Good means we tune in to our bodies and our intuition, including making food and lifestyle choices to feel energized and beautiful, what serves us and what doesn’t, and being in flow along our unique journeys. Feeling good naturally leads to also looking good, in a much more powerful way from glowing skin created from within, a beautifully strong body, radiant energy, and a level of peace and confidence in our perfectly imperfect lives.
Once a month, I do a Solocast with my insights, as well as current research on a trending topic from our community, to support you in living your most beautiful, inspired and joyful life.
I’m your host, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist. I’m so grateful and honored we found each other!
Today’s solocast topic is: Autophagy: The Insiders Secret to Health and Beauty
As you may have heard me talk about before, sleep is where much of the anti-aging process called protein synthesis occurs. This idea is closely connected to the concept of autophagy. Today more and more scientists are shedding light on the importance of autophagy and even better, the role of autophagy plays on your health and beauty!
Essentially, autophagy is your body’s system of cleaning the house. Your cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; digest them, and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts.
There are a few ways to turn autophagy on and off to help with your longevity, beauty, and health! By optimizing these processes, everything in your body is positively affected and your health and beauty will radiate!
Topics Covered In Autophagy: The Insiders Secret to Health and Beauty
#1. The history and background of autophagy.
#2. How it works in your body as an inner recycling program.
#3. The link between your autophagy, your health and your beauty.
#4. 4 ways to turn on your autophagy.
#5. What happens when you optimize your autophagy.
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Hi Beauties. Welcome to our Monday solocast, where today I’m going to be talking about autophagy, the insider secret to health and beauty. Maybe you’ve heard of autophagy, maybe you haven’t, although you will know a lot about it by the end of this show. But this is a very, very important aspect of our health and beauty to know about, it is our body’s internal recycling system, basically, and there’s a lot that we can do to influence it.
The reason that we care is because when we promote autophagy, our skin ages less, our body composition and weight balance easier, our energy goes up significantly, our immunity becomes strong; and so this is an important tool that we can all utilize to, again, benefit our health and our beauty tremendously.
Before we get into this fascinating topic, I want to take a moment to shout out our fan of the week. Her name is Heather [Ring 00:01:03] and she writes, “I’m new to the podcast world, I’ve searched through so many types of podcasts trying to find which one fits me, or one that actually has me listening. This is definitely my top podcast, I found the one, I’m empowered and learning to love. This is the podcast that changes my mood and inspires me daily to be a better version of myself and, most importantly, how to be a better version.”
Fan Of The Week
Heatherrayangg, thank you so much, thank you so much for being our fan of the week. I appreciate you, I am so excited, I’m so grateful that we found each other. Welcome to the Solluna community, sending you a big virtual hug and, again, so much gratitude right from my heart.
Share The Podcast and Leave a Review on Itunes
Beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review, it’s free, it’s easy, it just takes a moment or two out of your day, and it’s just a great way to support the show. It helps other beauties find the show organically, it can help other people transform their lives and get information that can really help them.
Thank you so much in advance, again it’s super easy to do, and if you’ve been putting it off maybe today is the day. And I also just want to give a little reminder to please make sure to subscribe to the show, that way you don’t miss out on any interviews, any Q&A podcasts, any solocasts, any of our information that’s coming out.
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The History and Background of Autophagy
All right, all that being said, let’s get right into autophagy, which is something that, again, this term may be an unfamiliar one to you, but we’re going to get into the history a little bit. It’s actually not a new concept, but it’s starting to become more popular as more research continues to emerge about its potential incredible benefits.
Autophagy, first of all, let’s break down what it means. It comes from the Greek word auto, which means self, and phagy which means eat. So autophagy is the process where your cells are removing toxins and repairing its own damage. So as I mentioned earlier, you can think about it like its own little recycling system.
Bubby, who’s now three, is really into trucks, he has this big recycling truck. And so, I always think about recycling, I always think about this important ability that we have to turn things in, and get them recycled, and to reuse materials. And we think about that in the world and, hopefully, all of us are separating our recycling and putting it in a separate bin.
Think about in your body, how important it is for our body to clean up what’s inside of us. Every day there are millions, billions of cells that are breaking down and building back up, and imagine if we don’t really properly and really thoroughly clean that out, it will weigh us down. And our toxic load continues to build, and that means our skin can become more dull, we have more baggage inside our body, so it makes it harder for our weight to balance, we start to feel heavier.
In essence autophagy, which we really do want to work to promote, means that this cleanup process is happening internally. And now, this was first discovered … Of course, it’s been going on since human beings have been alive, but in the 1960s, autophagy was really first recognized on the world front by Yoshinori Ohsumi. Yoshinori Ohsumi, not the best with pronouncing names sometimes.
But he actually received the Nobel Prize on his work having to do with autophagy. And he had different experiments with yeast, and he discovered that the genes in our body regulate autophagy. And if these genes aren’t properly functioning, then autophagy doesn’t work and, in contrast, our cells cannot fully repair themselves, and this recycling program isn’t efficiently happening.
What he found, and this is really interesting, is that autophagy is given a boost if there is cellular stress. So that means if the cells in our body are deprived of energy, if they’re damaged, if they lack nutrients, then autophagy is actually initiated from the stress response. So it means that in the absence of added stress, autophagy remains functioning at a moderate level, and it’s just in maintenance mode. But if we want to boost autophagy, we want to put the cells in a little bit of stress.
Now, I’m not talking about depriving yourselves of nutrients; of course, that’s not how we want to stress ourselves. In a little bit, we’re going to be getting into the actual ways to turn autophagy on, and how to use exercise in a very specific, positive way for autophagy without … Again, not talking about inflammation here, we’re not talking about deprivation. But I wanted you to know that this was a really interesting finding that came early on and, again, part of the work where Ohsumi ended up winning the Nobel Prize.
How it works in your body as an inner recycling program.
What happens with autophagy? Let’s get into it a little bit more, and how it really does affect your health and beauty in very positive ways. Is that in this process of autophagy, your body is cleaning out your whole system, and it starts to hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, worn out cells. And it actually, in essence, digests them and uses the resulting molecules for energy to make new cell parts.
It almost feels like this magic system in your body; it’s taking out the old, the broken down, and turning it, it’s reviving it, there’s this transformation process, and it really is bringing it into newness. So it very much is accurate to say that it’s a recycling program, it’s not just taking out waste and pulling out of your body, it is part of this renewal process, which is what I find so fascinating.
It’s a big way to renew yourself which, again, and of course is related to slowing the aging process, possibly reversing the aging process, and maximizing our natural beauty. So we’re not ‘anti-aging’ here, I think that there is a beauty as we continue to grow, and increase the depth of our wisdom; it’s like a maturing garden.
The Link Between Your Autophagy and Your Health
Of course, we’re all going to age according to our chronological birthday; not only is there nothing wrong with that, but that’s something I think that’s really beautiful to embrace. But when it comes to accelerated aging, when it comes to premature aging, when it comes to inflammation in our body, excess toxicity, all these things that weigh us down, those are things that we don’t need and we don’t want.
There is a way, of course, to grow in our depth, grow in our wisdom, but still have really, really beautiful skin for decades, and decades, and decades well into our advancing chronological age, so to speak. And I have seen this time and time again with so many amazing masters, great ones, teachers that have been a part of my life.
Just so many people that I look up to, so many amazing women that I’ve met along the way, backpacking around the world and, again, being fortunate to work with so many different people. So I know this is really possible for all of us, we don’t have to succumb to the ‘norm’, the fear based stuff that we hear about in popular media.
And it’s often trying to sell us surgeries, and procedures, and really expensive products, and certain things. There’s a great deal of empowerment that comes when we learn to really optimize our own body. Our bodies have so much intelligence within them, and autophagy is one aspect of that that we can really, again, boost and utilize for own advantage.
The Link Between Your Autophagy and Your Beauty
Research published in the Journal of Clinical And Experimental Pathology explains that, “Autophagy promotes cell maintenance by removing accumulated toxic material, and by using recycled components as an alternative nutrient source.” So again, we’ve all heard … Or maybe we haven’t all heard. Maybe you’ve heard it, if you remember that I talked about this in my first book, The Beauty Detox Solution, which is about the fact … You know, one of the biggest misconceptions in nutrition is that we need a ton of protein; and that’s actually not true.
Autophagy’s one of the ways that our bodies actually take proteins and recycle them. They take damaged proteins and actually help to counteract the negative effects of aging on our body. And it’s allowing our system to reuse again all those materials. And so we’re going to get into … I keep teasing this, but we’re going to talk about one of the ways to turn up autophagy.
But I’ll say right now, I’ll tease it right now, one of the best ways to turn it up is to actually limit your protein. And we’re in an interesting turning point, I think, in nutrition where we went through a phase of being fat free, in the 80s, and then we’ve gone through this big long period, since the 90s, of high protein, high protein.
And we’ve started to see that really turn in the last few years as more information comes out about excess protein putting a very heavy load on your body, and actually being insulin [agenetic 00:12:25] so, in essence, behaving like sugar when there’s too much protein in your system.
And we’ve seen the rise of keto; for people that were following high protein, a lot of people are now following high fat. Of course here in Solluna Beauty Detox, we do advocate more of a moderate approach. We don’t advocate totally cutting carbs, or only eating berries, we do love fruit, we do love natural foods, we do believe that everybody’s body is a little bit different.
That’s why in the radical beauty book that I wrote with Deepak Chopra, there’s a section on macronutrients, and we talk about the range of protein, fat, and carbs for your individual constitution; and there is a range. Your body may need and function better with more fat, it may function better with a little bit less fat and a little bit more carbs.
But across the board, we’re saying that what we’ve traditionally been taught about protein is usually way too much; there’re studies that show that the average American can have twice as much protein as they need. And again, this is not helpful to autophagy, as it relates to our topic today, it is not helpful to detoxification, in general, in the health of your liver, and kidneys, and other organs in your body.
Autophagy, going back to the research again, autophagy does enhance your metabolic efficiency. There was research published by the National Institutes of Health in 2015, stating, “That from the deepest cellular level, autophagy can be activated to help improve the work of your mitochondria, which is your cell’s power plant. Your mitochondria helps your cells work more efficiently, and because autophagy is helping to really activate that mitochondria, it’s helping your cells become more resilient and more efficient, in general.”
So this is working on a very, very deep level to create, again, that strength, that resilience, which does result in radiance. It means that we have really healthy cells, we are getting rid of these damaged cells, and we’re replacing them. I mean, the more I talk about it, it sounds like this magic process like, “Yes, yes, yes, give me that.” And so that’s what I find so exciting about autophagy is there’s this potential, this incredible wisdom and intelligence already inside of our body; we just have to work to really help promote it and to help it really turn on.
And last little bit of research I want to highlight … Well there’s more research about the ways to turn it on, but this area of health that I want to talk about before we get into the actual dos, is that autophagy can actually help prevent neurodegenerative disorders; whoo this is a big one. Most all of us listening to this, at this point, probably knows somebody directly, or through a friend, colleague, family member, two degrees removed, or three maybe.
But, I mean, these neurodegenerative disorders are so common now … We’re talking about Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Huntington’s disease, so this is an important part of autophagy. A lot of these are caused by damaged proteins that form in and around neurons, and autophagy has been shown in research now to help protect us by getting rid of these damaged proteins which very much affect our brains, so imagine the profound implications of this.
A podcast we had recently was with Dr. Michael Bruce, who is incredibly … His knowledge of sleep is very deep, has a lot of width and breadth to it. And he talks about this idea of the detoxification that happens in your brain; we talked about that a little bit. So this is related to that, this is related to the fact that as we promote autophagy, not only is it having an effect on your skin, and on your health, and on your immunity, it’s having an effect on your brain and helping to possibly really powerfully protect your brain.
And your family members, and all of your loved ones and the world, in general, against these very, very, sad, sad diseases that … and I’ll speak personally. My ex, who I still do care about I’m very connected to him, his mother has Parkinson’s disease, and she has suffered from it for over a decade now, and we’ve seen her decline quite rapidly.
And of course, it affects the whole family, it’s had a very big effect on everyone, so I know firsthand how much these diseases can detrimentally affect your world. So just another reason to pay attention to this, to learn it, to absorb it, to pass it on, to maybe share this podcast with others that may be affected by any of these disorders; this could be really potentially life changing.
Okay. So, finally you’ve heard me talk all about it, you’re probably really excited about it, you’re like, “Tell me what to do, tell me what to do.” So here we are, here are four key ways to turn autophagy on to help with your longevity, your beauty, and your health.
First Way to Turn on Your Autophagy
Number one … And this is one of the things I hinted on earlier, naturally induce some stress on your body. So this is funny because we talk a lot about de-stressing, and we talk about balancing your emotions, and your mind. So I want to say that this isn’t the type of stress that is about anxiety, and mulling things over, over and over again, and keeping yourself up at night, and having a very reactive response, getting angry easily; that’s not what we’re talking about here.
We are talking about exercise. When we exercise, there is stress placed on yourselves, and your energy needs to go up when we’re exercising. And, in turn, with exercise, parts of us actually get worn out faster. So autophagy helps to remove some of the damage, and it keeps your energy in check. It also boosts autophagy in your brain and in your muscle tissues.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “As little as 30 minutes of exercise will naturally improve your autophagy and your physical performance.” So 30 minutes, we’re not talking about trying to run a Iron Man, or do some intense two hour gym routine every day; that’s a lot on your body. We’re talking about 30 minutes, we’re talking about moving in a way that feels good to you.
For me, my primary form of exercise is walking. Right now I do a beach walk every morning, and it feels really good to me, I have my shoes off, I ground; it’s about five miles. So, again, it doesn’t have to be extreme, you can choose something that feels good to you. I would encourage you to be outside as much as you can, for an environment that’s conducive to that.
Walking in nature, going on a hike, incorporating that at least some of the time, I think is a nice way to, again, promote autophagy, but to not overtax your joints and your system. So you know what feels good to you, go with it, follow your heart, and you will also boost autophagy in the mean time.
Second Way to Turn on Your Autophagy
Next, integrate autophagy activating nutrients into your life and limit protein. So a 2017 study found that resveratrol is a natural autophagy regulator. So this is wonderful news, of course, it’s really exciting when we find specific nutrients that are connected to what we are working on. But more beyond that, when they are foods and nutrients that are already worked into our Solluna Beauty Detox diet, naturally.
When I’m talking about resveratrol, I’m talking about chocolates, I’m talking about cocoa, dark chocolate. Of course organic and, preferably, high; I like to eat my chocolate at about 82%, so you’re getting a lot of resveratrol in that way. Also certain berries, which you can add into your GGS is another great way to boost resveratrol.
We do encourage you to mix and match your fruits, to mix and match your greens in your glowing green smoothie. So incorporating different berries, acai, you can get frozen packets at the health market. I like the unsweetened [Samazon 00:21:37] brand; it’s one I’ve been using for years and years. So just working that into your life is another great way to boost it.
Another great food is coconut oil. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium … Sorry, healthy medium chain fatty acids. This not only helps to satiate you, it stimulates autophagy naturally. So, again, I don’t think that you need to have like a cup of coconut oil when you cook, I think you want to use suitable levels.
But when you cook, and you are utilizing an oil … I mean, coconut oil is pretty much the only oil I cook with at this point. I do use some cold pressed oil, I love the Udo’s oil, I love a little bit of cold pressed olive oil on salads, on raw dishes that we make; but because it stays stable at high temperatures, I am a huge fan of coconut oil, always.
And I will say that a couple years ago, The American Heart Association came out with a general recommendation, again, about saturated fats that was lumping everything together. I just want to point out, to be mindful, that the American Heart Association has different sponsorships, one of them being the American Canola Oil Council. So as the rise of coconut oil has come about, so too has the drop in certain oils in the market share of certain oils.
I just want us to be discerning, if you’re sitting here concerned, “Oh I heard coconut oil was this and this.” Just remember, historically, it has been used for centuries in many cultures that are very, very healthy, and very high levels of cardiovascular health. And also that medium chain fatty acids are very different; the coconut oil’s very different structure than animal fat.
Not the topic of today, but we have done other podcasts about this. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ll leave it at coconut oil’s a great thing to use and helpful in autophagy. [inaudible 00:23:56] go on one of my tangents.
And finally we want to talk about limiting protein. Again, our body can reuse protein, it can recycle it. There is evidence that protein restriction helps with boosting autophagy, it allows it to utilize, clean it up so it’s not sitting around damaged in our body. And it has also been shown that reduced protein constriction helps with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, in addition to enhancing autophagy.
There’s so much marketing out there, there’s so much about this, this. We start to latch on to these ideas even if though, historically, we didn’t need a lot of protein. Our ancestors didn’t eat these huge amounts of, specifically, animal protein. And if you look at human breast milk, the time in our lives where we are rapidly growing the fastest, human breast milk is not that high in protein. So for all these reasons, you don’t have to focus on eating huge amounts.
A healthy woman … I won’t get into number here too much, there’s charts in radical beauty, again this will take up another hour or so. But just know that if you are eating whole foods, if you are eating nutrient dense foods, if you’re eating enough calories, you are naturally going to get enough protein. You need more protein when you’re pregnant, of course, especially in the second and third trimester, but the average woman, let’s say around 40 grams of protein or so; for the average man a little bit more than that.
It’s so easy you guys, just have your glowing green smoothie, have a power protein smoothie later, if that’s part of your plan, if that’s a great snack, that’s a really easy way to boost … You could get 20, 25 grams of protein just from that; and then just going about your day.
I have a lentil veggie soup a lot with brown rice, I have the Dharma’s kale salad a lot with hemp seeds; mean there’s just a bajillion ways to get protein from a plant based diet, which is going to allow you to get all that fiber, all those amazing beauty building nutrients; so nutrient dense. Plant foods have such an incredible ability to support your beauty and health; so don’t worry about the protein, don’t worry about loading up.
Again, if you are wanting it for insurance, you could just simply have an extra plant based protein shake; very, very easy. When you have more protein, too much protein, excessive protein, to me, that the big issue of our time, that will overload your body and that will hinder autophagy. Number three … So all that was one point by the way. All of that had to do with the nutrients, so that was resveratrol, coconut oil, limiting protein.
Third Way to Turn on Your Autophagy
Number three is the conscious of when and how often you eat. Autophagy is closely connected with fasting. When you eat constantly, when you’re grazing, when you’re snacking all the time, this can inhibit autophagy by switching on the enzyme called mTOR, which is the powerful inhibitor of autophagy.
Now if you are following our morning program here at Solluna, you wake up in the morning, you have hot water with lemon, you hydrate room temperature water, you meditate, you get into your breath, you take your SBO probiotics, and you have your glowing green smoothie.
The glowing green smoothie, in its natural form, is based in water so you’re not right away going to concentrated fat, concentrated protein. It’s very, very easy to digest, it’s naturally quite low in calories, by the way, but it has fiber. So, to me, that is a natural form of fasting, in that way where we’re not introducing these heavier foods, and having our body really switch to digestion in the morning; that’s one of the reasons the GGS is so energizing.
If you are following our morning program, and even if you do eat foods later in the morning when you start to get hungry after a workout, or just from your body type … I eat later in the morning, I have a gluten free avocado sprout wrap almost every day; that’s my go to, it’s been my go to for a while now.
But still from dinner, from bedtime … Not dinner at bedtime, dinner the night before, and then bedtime, and then all three of the night, and then for several hours in the morning, I’m not eating that concentrated fat and protein. So that is a form of fasting in that way, that is a big chunk of time where you are not putting food into your system. So that’s very helpful for autophagy just by virtue of following our morning practice, which is something that I very much do recommend.
Fourth Way to Turn on Your Autophagy
And fourth, prioritize your sleep to reap the beauty benefits of autophagy. Autophagy is key to beauty sleep, and it is activated … So autophagy’s linked to … Let me put it this way, autophagy’s linked to your circadian rhythms which controls your sleep; so it’s activated with proper sleep. We need that time for rejuvenation, we need these blocks of time where your body can go to work, and most of your energy isn’t spent outward in outward activities, running around all day. Autophagy helps with sleep, and sleep also helps with autophagy.
For all the reasons we’ve been talking about so much now for the past few years, that’s why we have our sleep well program, that’s why we have sleep experts like the sleep doctor, Dr. Bruce, on the podcast is because, for so many reasons, we’re learning more and more that sleep is a huge key and wellness.
And there’s many keys, there’s the spiritual part, our cornerstones here, we talk about food, we talk about body, sleep falls into that body care. We talk about emotional well being, if your emotions are out of whack, if there’s drama all the time in your life, if you’re stressed all the time, if you’re angry all the time, your body isn’t going to be really well if you are not well because you don’t feel good; so that’s a big part of wellness.
Our fourth Cornerstone is spiritual growth. So we want to connect to our inner essence, we want to connect to our stillness, we want our confidence to come from our deep, deep, deep parts of ourselves connected to that. Not “Oh, this is how I look today, and this is what I do today.” Because guess what? That goes up and down. We want to have that deep, deep spiritual connection; and that is a huge part of wellness, and being well, and feeling good day to day.
Summarizing Ways to Turn on Your Autophagy
Again, let me summarize the four key ways to optimize autophagy and why it’s important. Number one, you want to exercise to put some stress on the body in moderate ways. Number two, you want to incorporate the right nutrients in your body; resveratrol, coconut oil, limited protein.
Numbers three, you want to be conscious of how often you eat, you want to eat proper meals, you want to minimize snacking, you want to follow the Solluna morning practice so that you aren’t introducing a lot of heavy foods first thing in the morning, which is autophagy off, essentially, or really minimizes it.
And number four, you want to really value your sleep because that will help with the autophagy, and the more we do all these lifestyle practices, autophagy will actually help with your circadian rhythms, it will help you sleep better as well. And as a result, everything in your body will be positively affected, your weight and body composition will, naturally, start to move into balance, your skin will age less and become more youthful and glowing, your energy will go up without all those stimulants that spike cortisol, attacks your glands like your adrenals.
Your immunity will become super strong, and your body will start to move into its flow, it will want to be dynamic, will want to move naturally. You won’t feel as much resistance, you won’t feel as sluggish. So this is really, really exciting, autophagy is a wonderful tool, again, as we’re calling it here in our solocast, the insider secret to health and beauty.
I hope you are inspired now to go out and to follow some of these protocols, and to really take care of your body, to optimize your own health and beauty. Remember your body is amazing, you are amazing, you have so much wisdom inside of you, so much intelligence; you just need to tune in, and tap into it, and let it come out.
I love you, I really do. I am so grateful for you for being part of our community, and so grateful that we have this space to support each other, and to help each other along this journey of life which can be crazy, and confusing, and just chaotic. But we’re here for each other, we’re grounding here with each other, we’re helping each other.
If you have any questions, please submit them over at mysolluna.com, there’s a podcast tab you will see easily, and you can ask me questions. We have our Q&A podcast every Thursday, we also have daily inspiration for you on Instagram.
We’re adding a lot more tidbits of information and daily tips, so please make sure to follow and check it out; the handles is @_kimberlysnyder. I will see you back here on Thursday speaking of our Q&A podcast. Thank you so much, beauties, for tuning in. Take great care, sending you so much love, and I will see you back here soon.