FOXO is a protein within our cells. It indicates whether cells should grow or maintain themselves. The frequency at which we eat and the quality of what we eat affects how it acts. When we eat, it is in growth mode. When we rest from eating certain foods, it goes into maintenance mode.
This protein plays an important role in how our bodies operate. It sets a template not only for each day but also for the days ahead as we establish habits and patterns of eating and digestion.
FOXO and time
Prof. Luigi Fontana’s (animal-based research University of Sydney) suggests, regular exercise and two days of fasting in order to trigger FOXO.
FOXO also decreases the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases by up to 90%. He observes that animals who exercise and fast live longer and have a better quality of life.
This is a key selling point for FOXO:
‘… you want more FOXO because more FOXO activates DNA repair genes, anti-oxidant genes, the autophagy cleaning up genes and inhibits cell proliferation, and therefore less cancer and more younger cells, more longevity.’1.
Prof. Fontana advocates that our bodies need a rest from the pressure of processing starchy foods. He proposes two days of fasting a week where lunch and dinner consist only of non-starchy vegetables with a little olive oil.
‘… with one or two days fasting a week you are basically rejuvenating the cells…’
The act of such fasting switches the body into maintenance mode. This is helpful for the system because to be in a constant state of growth is too much pressure for the FOXO protein.
FOXO and aging
This would explain why some people seem to age better than others. Those who look after themselves by giving their system the right combination of vitamins, minerals and rest enable the body to access its maintenance mode. This supports FOXO, and FOXO as Prof. Fontana observes activates DNA repair. A poor diet does not enable repair.
That is why what we eat every day matters. The minerals and vitamins we need are vital to current and future well being. As we evolve towards the next age, so too does the need of systems. A body devoid of rest and correct refuelling risks a crash.
While we cannot stop the journey through time, we can fuel it in such a way that we give ourselves the best advantage for what is coming. We can eat healthily and exercise in a way that brings us joy and does not put the body under too much strain. Frailty, loss of bone density and mobility and cardiovascular issues are not a foregone conclusion.
The blueprint for aging might well be our genes, but diet and exercise are important factors.
Fasting is not right for everyone, and you should clear any diet you are about to undertake with a registered medical practitioner.
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