A Japanese Scientist Explains How Fasting Benefits Anti-Aging and Won a Nobel Prize For His Research

A Japanese scientist named Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2016, for his research of autophagy in yeast. According to his research studies, it was discovered that fasting for short periods positively impacted the renewal of cells which in turn helped in slowing down aging.


Here are some points that give a glimpse into Yoshinori’s research:

1Are cells capable of “eating themselves”?

The answer is yes, indeed. In fact, autophagy is the process of utilization and renewal of unnecessary parts of the cells. It has been named after 2 Greek words which together mean- ‘self-eating’. The body and cells can eliminate of unnecessary organelles i.e. dead or damaged cells, by the process of autophagy. To build new cells for the future the end-of-life cells are then used. This distinctive feature of cells was discovered 60 years ago, however, Yoshinori was only able to identify the genes responsible for such a feature while he was studying autophagy in yeast. As such, it was also discovered that these genes are found in humans as well as other living organisms.

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2Why is “Cell self-eating” or autophagy beneficial?

When it comes to draining toxins out of the body, combatting infections, and renewal of the body, autophagy plays an important role. However, if there are any irregularities in the autophagy process, then it could possibly be due to a disease which could turn out to be type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or even cancer. The mechanisms and proteins that are used for cell renewal are also used when an infected cell tries to digest bacteria.

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3It benefits the body to influence autophagy

Influencing the autophagy process can be very beneficial, like for instance if in the case of cancer cells, if the body were to be made to think of the cells as damaged, then it would automatically destroy and remove them with its own efforts. This means that chemotherapy may not have to be used then. It could rather be better to be able to boost cell renewal in the elderly so as to slow down their aging.

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4In what way does fasting have an impact on the “self-eating” of the cell?

Insulin is responsible for delivering glucose to the body’s tissues and the production of insulin slows down during fasting, in turn causing the blood glucose levels to decrease. The body then switches to survival mode since its nutrient supply has been cut off. Glucagon production soon follows which then stimulates autophagy. This kind of defensive reaction of the body occurs in order to get the nutrient supply from the inside using the end-of-life cells.

Image Source: dama.bg

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