Taking Out the Trash on a Cellular Level (aka Exercise!!)

In a recent New York Times Health article, it states, “When ticking off the benefits of physical activity, few of us would include intracellular housecleaning. But a new study suggests that the ability of exercise to speed the removal of garbage from inside our body’s cells may be one of its most valuable, if least visible, effects.”

It goes on to explain, “It’s long been known that cells accumulate flotsam from the wear and tear of everyday living. Broken or misshapen proteins, shreds of cellular membranes, invasive viruses or bacteria, and worn-out, broken-down cellular components, like aged mitochondria, the tiny organelles within cells that produce energy, form a kind of trash heap inside the cell. In most instances, cells diligently sweep away this debris. They even recycle it for fuel. Through a process with the expressive name of autophagy, or “self-eating,” cells create specialized membranes that engulf junk in the cell’s cytoplasm and carry it to a part of the cell known as the lysosome, where the trash is broken apart and then burned by the cell for energy.”

What does this mean in simplest terms? Our bodies create waste as cells age and die, viruses are destroyed, toxins are processed. It has long been known that our internal organs aide in the removal of some if not all of this waste. This new research shows strong evidence for the fact that exercise can indeed make the body more efficient at taking out its own trash, and by being more efficient possibly avoid or reverse diabetes, risk of cancer, and certain auto-immune illnesses.

Think about people that you know that are couch potatoes. What does their skin look like? Their hair? Does it lack luster and the vigor of good health? Now imagine or look at a friend or acquaintance that exercises regularly. Do you see the bounce in their step, the glow of their skin, the shine in their hair, regardless of age? Our bodies WANT us to make good decisions. Our cells function so much better when we exercise and don’t smoke and choose healthy food. These decisions are celebrated in every cell of our being…skin, hair, heart, lungs, muscles…it is a party all day when you take good care of yourself.

If you ARE that couch potato, do not worry. Small steps in the right direction will take you miles over a year. If you smoke, quit (and get help…there are tons of medical and government sponsored programs to help you). If you don’t exercise at all, start by walking every day for 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes a day, every day. For nutrition, the first and easiest things you can do is ban high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour from your nutrition plan and go for foods that look the way they did when they were created. Eat an apple, not an apple flavored bar. Replace chips with carrots and raisins. You still need to eat!! Baby steps will help you take out the garbage that is accumulating in your body and you will be just a hop, skip, and a jump from better health before you know it!! Good luck!!!!