Since Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2016 for his enlightening work on autophagy in yeast fungus, fasting has become the focus of scientific attention. As a result, fasting can be seen more than ever these days as a legitimate purging and detoxification process.

All cells with a nucleus, from bacteria and plants to mammals, have the capacity for autophagy.


Autophagy refers to the special dismantling and recycling processes designed to produce energy and regenerate the cells. This process begins in the human body after about 14 to 16 hours of no calorie intake. Intermittent fasting is recommended for this reason.

During autophagy, double-walled bubbles filled with enzymes are formed in the cells, which take up and dismantle any cell components that are no longer functioning, as well as the proteins of microorganisms. Energy is produced in the process, which is used to develop new, intact, functioning units within the cell. The cell regenerates and rebuilds itself, thereby surviving such phases of nutrient deprivation. Autophagy is a purification process in times of prosperity and food abundance, and a survival strategy in times of need.

Due to the ability of the cells to cleanse themselves, fasting is recommended for people suffering from chronic illnesses. Fasting helps curb the chronically inflamed cell milieu, for autophagy – unlike energy generated by metabolism – does not promote any inflammation processes. In that sense it is like apoptosis, the process that makes old cells in the body disappear without engaging the inflammation process. The old cells are shed, like leaves in autumn falling from the tree, without harming the body.

What can we achieve by fasting?

The cells recover and become more responsive to insulin again.

The autophagy process is kick-started.

Fat-burning is encouraged.

Brown fatty tissue is activated.


Autophagy When a cell has too little energy at its disposal, it tends to help itself. It forms double-walled bubbles (lysosomes) containing enzymes. These enzymes discard any cell components no longer working to produce energy. The cell survives and purifies itself at the same time.