The term ‘Autophagy’ was in news for Nobel prize winning idea. And largely, it was popular in India as the concept was related to fasting. Fasting promotes Autophagy and Autophagy cleans body regularly!

Here, a new study throws light on how exercise also helps in let body continue with Autophagy process.

Research note:

A fairly frequent type of muscle dysfunction occurs when skeletal muscle cells, which make up most of the body’s mass, stop receiving stimuli.

This happens, for example, when the sciatic nerve is injured, as it sometimes is in bus drivers, other individuals who spend long hours sitting or bedridden patients. Intervention to minimize or even reverse muscle dysfunction due to the lack of stimulus is necessary to improve the quality of life for these people.

In a study published in Scientific Reports by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in partnership with colleagues in the United States and Norway, the lack of muscle stimulus due to a surgically induced sciatic nerve injury in rats resulted in a buildup of inadequately processed proteins in muscle cells and consequently led to muscle weakness or wasting.

The researchers found that this buildup was caused by the impairment of autophagy, the cellular machinery responsible for identifying and removing damaged proteins and toxins. They demonstrated that physical exercise can keep the autophagic system primed and facilitate its activity when necessary, as in the case of muscle dysfunction due to the lack of stimulus. The degenerative processes caused by a lack of muscle stimulus were found to be delayed in rats that had been subjected to a prior regime of aerobic exercise training.

“Daily exercise sensitizes the autophagic system, facilitating the elimination of proteins and organelles that aren’t functional in the muscles. Removal of these dysfunctional components is very important; when they accumulate, they become toxic and contribute to muscle cell impairment and death,” said Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, a professor in the university’s Biomedical Science Institute (ICB-USP) and principal investigator for the study.

In my view, this is interesting research as it establishes value of age old Ayurvedic concept of Prana. Prana is the life energy that performs respiration, oxygenation and circulation. it also governs all the motor and sensory functions. In the human body there are many small srotamsi i.e. channels, and they come together to create a larger srotas. Kapha, Pitta and Vata move from one part of the body to the another along channels – both physical and energetic. A srota is a flowing river in body. When we dam them, or their flow is disturbed, you will see accumulation of toxins in body. Each srota has mula, marga (passage) and mukha (opening). For example : Kidney : A mula for urinary srota and urethra is mukha or opening for this system.

When Prana-vahak srotas are disturbed, related organs’ srota(s) are also impacted and hence their functioning is disturbed, resulting in toxins storage in body. So to even let the autophagy process go on, it is important to correct the prana-vahak channels. Correction of flow of energy in body play critical role. Exercise helps here. Fasting too helps. Martial art helps. Surya Namaskar helps.