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How Does Age Affect Autophagy? Learn What You Can Do



As we grow older, our cells start to show signs of aging and slowly lose our youthful glow. The changes that occur with age aren’t just limited to the outside. Our internal environment has started changing as well. After all, if the outside shows the effects of age, why wouldn’t the inside be affected as well? You can learn more on this subject at:

What is Autophagy?

Aging is a fundamental characteristic of every living creature, but what is autophagy? Its process is where our cells break down and recycle their own contents to generate energy for survival and maintenance. This is also known as “self-eating” or “cellular recycling.” Autophagy is a metabolic process in your cells to maintain cellular homeostasis and longevity.

How Does Autophagy Work?

Autophagy is a catabolic (cellular breakdown) process that occurs in your cells to maintain homeostasis (your body’s stability). It’s important to note that autophagy isn’t “self-eating”; rather, it removes damaged or unnecessary materials from your cells so that the cells can become more efficient at their jobs. When autophagy is working properly, your cells have a steady supply of energy (ATP) and other materials necessary for survival and function. Conversely, when autophagy is impaired, cells can become “impaired in their ability to maintain homeostasis,” leading to age-related diseases, decreased longevity, and accelerated cellular damage. In fact, autophagy is important for the “self-repair and longevity of the body.”

How does age affect autophagy?

Aging can affect autophagy in several ways. First, aging can result in a decline in cellular turnover. This means that as time passes, more of the same cells remain in the body.

Second, aging also affects levels of certain proteins involved in autophagy (e.g., ATG5 and ATG12). These proteins are required for autophagy to occur, so low levels of these proteins may decrease the autophagy rate in older people.

Third, aging can cause changes to the cell membrane’s structure, making it more difficult for nutrients to enter the cell and waste products to leave the cell. As a result, less protein will be broken down and excreted by cells.

Finally, aging causes damage to mitochondria. These organelles are responsible for much of the energy production in the cell and are damaged by free radicals over time. If left unchecked, this damage can lead to reduced energy production and fuel shortages for performing normal body functions.

How to Boost Autophagy

Autophagy can be boosted through certain lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, and supplementation. Here are a few ways to boost autophagy to improve your health and longevity.

  • Eat a Healthy, Plant-Based Diet – A healthy diet full of veggies, fruits, and whole grains will increase your autophagy while aiding in cellular and metabolic clean-up. This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out animal products from your diet, but rather, make sure the majority of your diet consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Supplement with Resveratrol – In addition to a healthy, plant-based diet, resveratrol is another powerful way to boost autophagy. Resveratrol is found in grapes, red wine, mullein leaves, and blueberries. Studies have shown that the consumption of resveratrol results in the cleavage of several autophagy proteins, thus increasing autophagy.
  • Incorporate Autophagy-Friendly Exercise into Your Lifestyle – Autophagy is boosted after a workout, so make sure to incorporate autophagy-friendly exercise in your daily routine.


Autophagy is among one million processes in the human body day after day. Therefore, its effects on the human body are inevitable and can’t be stopped. In this article, we have mentioned how autophagy takes place and the effects of aging on the process of autophagy.

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