Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Yet another theme that has been circulating in the paleosphere for several years (see last comment here, and Conditiong Research), and which has no pricked wider public consciousness, cellular autophagy!

The New York Times has a great article 'Exercise as Housecleaning for the Body':
  • "It’s long been known that cells accumulate flotsam from the wear and tear of everyday living. Broken or misshapen proteins, shreds of cellular membranes, invasive viruses or bacteria, and worn-out, broken-down cellular components, like aged mitochondria, the tiny organelles within cells that produce energy, form a kind of trash heap inside the cell.In most instances, cells diligently sweep away this debris. They even recycle it for fuel. Through a process with the expressive name of autophagy, or “self-eating,” cells create specialized membranes that engulf junk in the cell’s cytoplasm and carry it to a part of the cell known as the lysosome, where the trash is broken apart and then burned by the cell for energy.Without this efficient system, cells could become choked with trash and malfunction or die."
 Pretty awesome eh?  This is something that is missed in the basic CICO model. The system can eat itself - so how do you work out the CI from autophagy?

Two triggers were identified that lead to autophagy,
  • "In petri dishes, the rate of autophagy increases when cells are starved or otherwise placed under physiological stress."
Certainly the former is something that ADV has been talking about for years (yet again he is ahead of the curve), but more generally, these fit the paleo paradigm.  Hunger triggers a intense exertion in the form of a hunt. 

The benefits of cellular autophagy are available to us RIGHT NOW,
"Still, it’s possible that at some point, autophagy-prompting drugs or specialized exercise programs might help everyone to fully benefit from exercise."

Skip a meal here and there (IF), exercise in short sharp burst (power law)....or wait for the pill!  ;)


J. Stanton said...

I believe the lifespan-extending benefits of calorie restriction, protein restriction, alternate-day fasting, etc. etc. are due in large part to autophagy.

I also suspect that our modern lifestyle features an almost complete lack of autophagy. 'Keep your energy up' by snacking at all times! And don't you dare embark upon an exercise program before first stuffing yourself with carb gels.

JS - gnolls.org

Asclepius said...

Hi J. I agree! I am happy to traverse my various energy systems/metabolic pathways as a matter of necessity. Acute stress is clearly an agent of beneficial change.

Only this weekend I was talking to a friend about her inclination to 'endure' breakfast (a meal she often forced herself to eat), to fuel her 'fat-burning' cardio session at lunchtimes....