Recycling your own energy (2/22/12)
Using Life’s Speed
Life is fast. We use up our internal “stuff” very quickly.
What “stuff”? Anything involving energy, materials, and all that passes information.
And what happens to it? It gets recycled.
Without recycling, we don’t live. Not so surprisingly, improving or speeding that recycling appears to create positive health outcomes. They include changes from long life to fighting off diabetes and weight gain.
Just like in any ecosystem, it pays to recycle.
A large part of cellular recycling has become actively studied as “autophagy” – literally “self eating.”
Research done quite some years ago stopped autophagy in animals recently born.
Some argued that this simply led to an increase in toxins. Other felt quite differently – that the materials required for life had to be reused.
So what happens when you don’t have enough materials?
Lots of people want to live long – a lot longer.
They’re excited by many studies of animals of caloric restriction – cutting down the amount of food energy and materials that comes into a body over a lifetime.
Restrict rats and mice to 2/3 of their normal calorie intake – keeping the proportion of protein, carbohydrates and fats stable, and making sure there’s enough required vitamins and minerals – and they live about 50% longer.
In other animals, similar results occur. In worms and “small” animals, lifespans can be even more dramatically lengthened. So far, various apes kept on smaller diets appear to physically age less quickly, and demonstrate lower lipid levels and blood pressure.
Will the same thing happen with humans? In coming decades, we’ll have to ask that question of the many people presently trying to live on 1000-1300 calories.
In the meantime, we can see what caloric restriction does in cells.
One way it seems to work is to increase recycling. Autophagosomes, organelles (cells have organelles, bodies have organs) that recycle materials – and sometimes “burn” them for fuel – markedly increase when caloric restriction is attempted.
When you don’t have enough material to get the job done, you recycle what you have.
People have been asking me about an article I wrote on “Why Exercise Works?” They wonder what possibly could be the mechanism.
One answer – physical activity immediately increases autophagosomes. Their number skyrockets when animals exercise.
Much like it does with caloric restriction.
Why could that be?
When you exercise, you use up a lot of energy. You may quickly use up pumping proteins in the heart, and glucose and fat molecules in your peripheral muscles. More waste products are produced as you use more stuff.
Sounds like a perfect time for recycling – to reuse the materials you can, and then wall off and modify the “garbage” left that you can’t.
And unlike human communities, people don’t have large “garbage fills” to stick the stuff away for what we presume is forever.
There’s no Staten Island to stick your refuse – not in the human body.
So when you use more, you recycle more. And the recycling machinery expands – and becomes more efficient.
Recycling and Regeneration
Use more, recycle more. Have less to work with, recycle more.
You need to recycle in order to regenerate. And you need to regenerate in order to survive.
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