Uncovering Autophagy: The Key To Long-Term Health

Uncovering Autophagy: The Key To Long-Term Health

Ion Zaydelman Zaydelman

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells

Prime benefits of Autophagy- prompts regeneration and healthy cells

Autophagy is a longevity-associated process involving the selective destruction of damaged cellular organelles, sometimes described as “cellular housekeeping.” It comes from the Greek word for “self-eating.”

The scientific importance of understanding autophagy was highlighted when the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.

The longer you can keep your cells free of damage and turning over at a healthy rate, the younger you’ll feel and look — and the longer your life expectancy will be. Autophagy is the scientific process that keeps your cells healthy.

Autophagy is how your body detoxifies and repairs itself, playing a major role in health-span and longevity. When things are running smoothly in a cell, autophagy occurs at a low level, helping to recycle worn-out cellular components. It’s a type of “maintenance” mode. But when things become stressed in a cell (perhaps due to a lack of nutrients or energy, dysfunctional components, or an invasion by microbes), autophagy is increased in order to help protect the body: it goes into “stress response” mode.

Ways to Activate Autophagy

Activation of autophagy counteracts the age-associated accumulation of damaged cellular components and enhances the metabolic efficiency of cells. Autophagy is a response to stress that helps cells become more resilient and conservative with their energy. In particular, autophagy can be activated to remove dysfunctional mitochondria (mitophagy), which produce a lot of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) that degrade the cell. These processes are reported to extend the lifespan. There are a few ways to activate the process of autophagy.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Autophagy is activated by aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to induce autophagy in muscle tissues and the brain.

  • Autophagy is increased by intermittent fasting and caloric restriction. This can be achieved either by going for a period without any food (fasting) or by reducing the amount of food you eat (caloric restriction). Short-term fasting has been demonstrated to induce profound neuronal autophagy and may be a good method for combating neurological conditions.

  • Autophagy is promoted by the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrate intake and increases fat intake, resulting in a shift of energy use from glucose to ketones. This shift mimics the process that occurs during fasting and can lead to the increase of autophagy. The ketogenic diet is a good alternative for individuals who struggle with fasting or caloric restriction approaches.

Plant-based natural extracts that increase autophagy:

Maintaining a long-term caloric restriction diet, keto diet, and intermediate and short-term fasting can be very difficult and demanding.

Natural compounds have the ability to mimic the effects of the diets and fasting, and can be useful in increasing autophagy. The natural compounds listed below mimic the metabolic, hormonal, or physiological effects of the diets without reducing long-term food intake. They also stimulate cell maintenance and repair processes, and can effect longevity and the reduction of age-related disease.

  • Turmeric root extract activates and increases the effects of autophagy. Turmeric, galangal and ginger belong to the same zingiberaceae family. Turmeric is the most studied botanical in modern history, with a wide spectrum of well-proven health benefits. Curcumin as one of the active compounds of turmeric, which induces autophagy by activating AMPK.

  • Ginger root extract can activate autophagy. An active constituent of ginger (6-shagol) has been shown to induce the effects of autophagy..

  • Galangal roots extract contains galangal rhizomes, which are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and have superb anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Constituents of galangal have been reported to induce autophagy.

  • Ginkgo biloba extract. Multiple studies on ginkgo biloba and cognitive behavior revealed a statistically significant increase in average lifespan and the effects of autophagy.

  • Citrus peels extract (especially grapefruit) contain a compound called naringin that induces autophagy-mediated growth inhibition of cancer cells. Hesperidin is also found especially in citrus fruits, and particularly in their peels. These compounds are powerful free radical scavengers and have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, insulin-sensitizing, and lipid-lowering properties.

  • Pineapple peels and core contain medicinal properties which have numerous beneficial effects to our entire body. Bromelain is a chief protease enzyme found in pineapple plant. This fascinating compound has traditionally been used as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and multiple studies demonstrate its ability to induce autophagy. Bromelain can also enhance the absorption and bio-efficacy of other ingredients, making it an ideal constituent in herbal compounds.

Research has also shown that pineapple peels and core have fibrinolytic, antiedematous, and antithrombotic properties, all of which help prevent blood clots, edema, and swelling.

  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts contain an organic compound called sulforaphane, which contains sulfur and induces autophagy in neuronal cells.

  • Medicinal mushroom extract has many health benefits, particularly relating to the immune system. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi and chaga induce autophagy and can fight cancer. The beta-glucan signaling of these mushrooms is also connected to autophagy.

  • Pomegranates peels & seeds extract contain compounds like punicalagin and quercetin that promote autophagy. Pomegranate extract is highly effective in the suppression of free radicals for a healthy inflammatory response. It also supports healthy cell replication and heart function, exercise tolerance, and healthy prostate and breast tissue.

  • Red grape skin & seed extract is the most powerful antioxidant available. It acts as a free radical scavenger in the body by donating beneficial electrons that help stop the cascade of oxidation, a process which can slow the aging process. It also promotes healthy collagen and elastin content in the skin’s connective tissue. Ursolic acid and quercetin are both components of grape skin extract and can induce autophagy and suppress inflammatory responses.

  • Green tea leaf extract contains polyphenols such as EGCG, which are reported to have strong pro-autophagic effects and stimulate hepatic autophagy. Green tea leaf extract supports cell membrane integrity and helps reduce fat storage to support hormone sensitivity, the ability of the cell membrane to accept hormones. It also supports healthy cortisol function and healthy cholesterol levels and lipid profiles.

  • Japanese knotweed. The health benefits of Japanese knotweed include its ability to prevent and treat cognitive disorders, improve heart health, lower the risk of cancer, reduce gastrointestinal distress, lower blood pressure, and maintain proper insulin levels.

Japanese Knotweed contains lots of resveratrol, one of the best anti-aging compounds in the natural world. The roots of the plant contain much higher levels of resveratrol than the leaves and stems.

Several studies have reported the autophagy-inducing effects of resveratrol. Resveratrol simulates caloric restriction in the absence of actual nutrient deficiency by activating sirtuins (SIRT1 is the human homolog) and has been shown to increase lifespan. SIRT1 also suppresses NF-kB (and the inflammatory cytokines and enzymes NF-kB activates), lending resveratrol anti-inflammatory activity in cell culture and animal models.

Resveratrol has the unique ability to mimic the effects of caloric restriction, which has been shown to promote longevity in a variety of organisms. It also supports healthy insulin sensitivity, enhanced mitochondrial function, dopamine receptors, and a healthy inflammatory response.

  • Indian Kino contains a substance called pterostilbene, which is similar but much more efficacious than resveratrol in reversing cognitive deficits. Pterostilbene has also been shown to reduce colon tumors, reduce pro-inflammation cytokines, and reduce Alzheimer pathology. This antioxidant also naturally occurs in blueberries and grape leaves.

Pterostilbene is better absorbed and more biologically active than resveratrol. Also, it is metabolically more stable than resveratrol and confers intended benefits without undergoing extensive metabolism.

Due to the proven benefits of the Indian Kino tree, more studies are being conducted using Pterocarpus Marsupium in combination with other herbs to discover its wide-ranging health benefits. One of the most impressive studies showed that it may contribute to extending life. Indian Kino extract may offer significant breakthroughs for human health.

  • Rosemary is an aromatic herb that’s part of the mint family. It’s known for its ability to improve memory, promote hair growth, relieve muscle aches and pains, improve cognitive function and soothe digestive issues. Rosemary also possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, detoxifying, anti-stress and healing properties. Studies demonstrates that ursolic acid of Rosemary activate and enhances autophagy

  • Sage is a woody herb that’s closely related to rosemary and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. When consumed even in small amounts, sage can improve your memory and concentration, fight free radicals, prevent degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, reduce inflammation, prevent or improve diabetes, boost your immune system, improve the health of your skin and strengthen your bones. Sage Extract are rich in ursolic acids that support activation of autophagy.