The Effects of Autophagy on Infection

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Autophagy is an incredible tool that your body uses to clean up cellular junk, keeping your body systems running strong. The natural process called autophagy has amazing effects on your body and your overall health. You may have even heard me talk about some of the benefits of autophagy as far as it’s self-cleaning aspects before. But, there is something else that’s really cool about autophagy, and it has to do with infection. I want to help you understand what you really need to know about autophagy and infection. This exciting information could change the way you think about how to help your body heal when you’re sick.

Let’s get started.

In this article, I will cover:

The word “autophagy” in all caps against a blue background  | <u>The Effects of Autophagy on Infection</u>


What Is Autophagy?

Imagine you had this new kitchen gadget that took your garbage and turned it into wood, nails, and other raw materials to build and restore the other rooms in your house. That would be pretty amazing, right? Well, that’s pretty much what autophagy does in your body. It takes the garbage and turns it into raw material to be used efficiently and effectively.

Autophagy is a condition where your body starts to eat up old, damaged proteins and clean up microbes that shouldn’t be there. It then recycles them into new amino acids and new materials.

If we break down the word autophagy, “auto” means self, and “phagy” means to eat. The literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.” While this might not sound like something you would ever want going on inside your body, it’s actually very beneficial.

Autophagy is always there in the background working in maintenance mode, restoring balance, and regulating cellular function. Without autophagy functioning as it should, you would end up with a buildup of toxins and cellular gunk that would clog up and slow down an otherwise efficient process—leading to many different issues.

Autophagy is an evolutionary pathway to help survival. It’s a natural regenerative process that occurs at the cellular level. It can promote longevity, reduce the risk of contracting certain diseases, and boost your overall performance.

Benefits of Autophagy

  • Incredible anti-aging effects
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Reducing the risk of cancer

A woman with an infection sitting on a couch blowing her nose and checking her temperature | <u>The Effects of Autophagy on Infection</u>


The Effects of Autophagy on Infection

Some of the most well-known effects of autophagy have to do with anti-aging. While these anti-aging effects are amazing, as you can see, autophagy has a lot of other benefits. Autophagy has an incredible ability to clean up certain viruses and bacterial pathogens that can lead to infections. It does this by using something called xenophagy. Xenophagy is a type of autophagy that specifically targets and eliminates pathogens.

Your immune system uses xenophagy to direct autophagy against pathogens and to clean up microbes that shouldn’t be there. But, unfortunately, certain viruses have adapted to xenophagy and have ways of escaping this unique mechanism. You might not be able to handle all of the harmful microbes in your body this way, but xenophagy can help lessen the load.

A plate with a fork and knife on either side and the word autophagy written in the middle | <u>The Effects of Autophagy on Infection</u>


How Can You Trigger Autophagy?

The great news is that early research suggests that it might be possible to increase or trigger autophagy and xenophagy. It’s actually pretty simple too. You may be able to trigger and enhance these incredible mechanisms through intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is basically not eating. It’s not starving yourself, it’s just omitting snacks and frequent meals. You basically have an eating window when you eat your meals, and then you don’t eat during the other times of your day.

Let’s say your eating window is from two o’clock in the afternoon to six o’clock in the evening. During this time you might have your first meal of the day around two o’clock and then wait to eat again until six o’clock. After six o’clock your eating window is closed, and you would practice intermittent fasting until two o’clock the following day.

The eating window and the number of meals can vary from person to person, depending on your specific needs and goals. But, this example would give you twenty hours of fasting, which is really awesome. You can get a ton of amazing health benefits from twenty hours of fasting that go beyond weight loss. To trigger autophagy, you need to fast for at least eighteen hours.

You want to start intermittent fasting gradually. Start by cutting out snacks, and then slowly go from three meals a day to two meals or even one meal a day. Keep in mind it’s really best to do intermittent fasting combined with the healthy keto diet.

What’s interesting is that in many cases, when a person is sick, they naturally lose their appetite. Even animals in the wild, when they get an infection, tend to stop eating. Basically, they’re fasting, and autophagy could be the mechanism that’s helping them survive.

A head of garlic and other herbs on a wood surface | <u>The Effects of Autophagy on Infection</u>


Natural Remedies to Combine With Autophagy

Triggering autophagy through intermittent fasting can be effective as a preventative measure. But, if you’re in the middle of battling some type of infection or some type of chronic systemic immune weakness, you may need an extra boost to help you get over it.

In this situation, you still would want to do intermittent fasting. But, along with stimulating autophagy, you can also try a few herbal remedies to help support your immune system and promote recovery.

You can take these antiviral and antimicrobial herbs even when you’re fasting, by taking them in a capsule form. It’s highly unlikely that these herbal capsules will knock you out of ketosis. If they did, I don’t believe it would be long enough to make any sort of difference. You can try any one of these natural remedies for infection or a combination of them. My favorites of these herbal remedies are oregano and garlic. You might smell like a pizzeria, but I’ve seen a lot of success using these.

Some Great Herbal Remedies to Combine With Autophagy:

  • Garlic
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Ginger
  • Astragalus
  • Oregano

Key Takeaways—Autophagy and Infection

Autophagy is an incredible mechanism that cleans up and recycles old and damaged proteins. Research suggests this unique process may support anti-aging, lower inflammation, and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Other than restoring your vitality and potentially promoting longevity, autophagy also has another hidden weapon called xenophagy. Xenophagy is a type of autophagy that targets and destroys pathogens that can lead to infections.

Intermittent fasting might just be one of the best ways to trigger autophagy. If you’re in the thick of an infection or you have some type of chronic systemic immune weakness, you may want to combine intermittent fasting with a few effective herbal remedies like garlic and oregano capsules.

I hope this has helped you better understand autophagy and infection. I believe autophagy is a very powerful mechanism that everyone should take advantage of. Consider giving intermittent fasting a try to get these benefits.

Up Next:-

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan