Autophagy is a similar term to fasting (Roza in Persian) invented by the scientists.

“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.”

It’s also referred to as “self-devouring.” While that may sound like something you never want to happen to your body, it’s actually beneficial to your overall health.

This is because autophagy is an evolutionary self-preservation mechanism through which the body can remove the dysfunctional cells and recycle parts of them for cellular repair and cleaning, according to a board-certified cardiologist, Dr. Luiza Petre.

Petre explains that the purpose of autophagy is to remove debris and self-regulate back to optimal smooth function.

“It is recycling and cleaning at the same time, just like hitting a reset button to your body. Plus, it promotes survival and adaptation as a response to various stressors and toxins accumulated in our cells,” she adds.


After a human stop eating and drinking for more than at least 6 to 7 hours, the body starts auto inspection of what has gone wrong with it and it automatically destroys the old/bad cells and new cells are generated in the body. Basically, all the trash in the human body goes out.

Additionally, registered dietitian, Scott Keatley, RD, CDN, says that in times of starvation, autophagy keeps the body going by breaking down cellular material and reusing it for necessary processes.

“Of course, this takes energy and cannot continue forever, but it gives us more time to find nourishment,” he adds.

While all cancers start from some sort of defective cells, Petre says that the body should recognize and remove those cells, often using autophagic processes. That’s why some researchers are looking at the possibility that autophagy may lower the risk of cancer.

While there’s no scientific evidence to back this up, Petre says some studiesTrusted Source suggest that many cancerous cells can be removed through autophagy.

“This is how the body polices the cancer villains,” she explains. “Recognizing and destroying what went wrong and triggering the repairing mechanism does contribute to lowering the risk of cancer.”

Researchers believe that new studies will lead to the insight that will help them target autophagy as a therapy for cancer.

This comes as similar practices are advised by different religions including Islam. Muslims practices autophagy under the name of fasting during the month of Ramadan for 30 days each year. Roza or fasting is one of the five bases of Islam.