Charlie, this is absolutely one of my favorite topics! You heard correctly, the process of autophagy works on the whole body internally and in the specific skin cells themselves. In other words, autophagy works from the inside and the outside.
In case you need a little background, autophagy is the body’s cellular clean-up crew, and is how the skin naturally removes toxins. Literally meaning “self-eating,” autophagy is what frees the skin to not just look but also actually act younger – in some studies by up to half its age! Essentially, autophagy can be thought of as a fountain of youth for your cells.
Your skin cells endure a lot of daily damage from pollution, chemicals, sunlight and more. When your skin cells accumulate damage and toxins, this provokes the aging process. While it’s true that you make new cells often, autophagy can help repair the existing ones so that they truly glow.
We can promote autophagy from the inside with a keto diet, fasting practices, timing our exercise and sleep and other tools that I talk about in my book, Glow15. Eating polyphenol-rich foods like cacao, green tea, blueberries, and red wine also helps to activate autophagy from the inside out by bringing these nutrients to skin cells where they can provide antioxidant protection and support cellular regeneration.
Now, what’s so exciting is that we can target these same compounds directly to our skin cells. Where internal nutrition is spread around the body, external nutrition can boost autophagy directly in the areas we want it, namely our face and neck. Skin cells can actually engulf bacteria and toxins that your skin is exposed to and protect not only your skin but also the rest of your body. I find this so incredible and the reason that autophagy-activating skincare is so fundamental.