When we think of cleansing our bodies, a few vivid images come to mind: liquid juice diets in a vast array of colors, a protocol of various detoxifying teas and wallets that dwindle exponentially faster than our waistlines. Popular detoxes and cleanses may or may not prove beneficial to you, which can make the whole detox-cleansing game a little confusing. How can we really cleanse our bodies? Worry not! Our bodies actually have their own built-in auto-cleansing program. It is called autophagy, and, although it may be a little unpleasant, it is actually cheap, highly effective and your body does all of the work for you.
Let’s begin by explaining what the heck autophagy is. Autophagy is essentially the process of the body consuming itself. Yes, it is pretty much cellular cannibalism. The body seeks worn out cells and consumes them for energy while saving what’s useful. This creates sparkling new cellular material, thwarting premature cellular aging. This process is extremely beneficial at keeping rogue cells in check, giving less opportunity for disease and cancers to set in.
Autophagy also helps with muscle growth, fat loss, injury repair, brain function, immune function and lowering overall inflammation. It makes the old components of your cellular structure fresher, stronger and more powerful than they were before. This is hugely beneficial for ridding your body of toxic, inflammatory cellular matter.
So how can you induce autophagy?
Exercise. Small amounts of stress on the body are necessary for inducing autophagy. Yes, stress is actually beneficial in small, contained amounts—chronic stress, on the other hand, is extremely damaging. Exercise such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) stress and cause micro-damage to your muscles, which induces the body to go into autophagy to heal the muscles and fortify them so that they are even stronger the next time. Exercising even a few times a week initiates this healing process and your body will be the better for it. So, keep that body moving!
Strategically skip meals. Just as you need a rest day from your workout regimen now and then, your body actually benefits from short breaks from food consumption. Intermittent fasting has garnered a reputation as an anti-aging, inflammation busting, weight loss superstar. It helps restore balanced blood sugar levels and can assist you in kicking your addiction to food. Like intense exercise, intermittent fasting temporarily stresses the body, which encourages it to go into clean-up overdrive. Sure, at first you’re not going to love skipping meals. However, as your body adjusts, you’ll experience less hunger and more mental clarity in your fasted state. Some people even find they are more alert and productive when they are fasting. There are a few different methods, so if you are going to try fasting, do your research and find the solution that you think will work best for your schedule and unique body.
Nix the carbs. If you find it nearly impossible to skip out on food for any great length of time, eating a very low-carb diet can offer similar benefits. Eating very low quantities of carbohydrates puts the body into a state where it burns fat as its primary fuel, called ketosis. Ketosis offers a lot of the key benefits of intermittent fasting without actually fasting. Some studies have shown that ketones can reduce the growth of cancers, protect against brain degeneration, reduce the risk of diabetes and significantly reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. Low carb diets rely heavily on healthy fats, so this eating style may not be for you if you are still plagued by a fear of dietary fat.
While doing all of these things maniacally on a daily basis may be more stressful to your body than anything, incorporating a little high-intensity exercise and dietary restriction into your week can help keep you young, healthy and fit in a way that a $200 juice cleanse never could. You don’t need to buy something to detoxify your body. Simply give your body what it needs to take care of and repair itself.