Can you detoxify your cells and clean them out of unwanted waste material? There is a process called autophagy that occurs, where the body has the ability to clean out damaged cells and regenerate and replace them with new healthy cells. It is a housekeeping feature of the body that is a recycling type process. It occurs in the cytoplasm (jelly like part) of the cell to help the body stay healthy and contributes to longevity.

During autophagy, lysosomes, which are organelles have digestive enzymes that breakdown and digest the overabundance or worn out parts of the cells along with food particles and other waste material.

Autophagy declines with aging since there is an excess of dysfunctional cells along with damaged protein and organelles in cells. This causes problems with cellular balance and increases cell death (Escobar KA et al, 2018). The objective during the aging process is to promote and encourage more cell detoxification to help increase lifespan.

It has been shown that inhibiting the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) promotes and encourages longevity since it has a negative effect on autophagy (Escobar KA et al, 2018). It is believed that by inhibiting TORC1, it may decrease the manufacturing of cellular proteins, making them less available to accumulate and store during aging.

  • mTOR is a compound in the body that is involved in regulating the cell’s homeostasis (balance) in response to different types of stimulus, stress, nutrients, etc. It exists as either TORC1 or TORC2.
  • It has been shown that inhibition of mTORC1, increases lifespan in animals. In one study, there was a 20% extension in lifespan and age related problems (Wu J et al, 2013).

Research shows that exercise and cutting down on calories in the diet diminishes TORC1 activity and promotes autophagy in various tissues. This is one of the theories why exercise and reducing calorie consumption promotes a longer life. (Escobar KA et al, 2018).

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase autophagy in the body, but also has been demonstrated to occur in the brain. In vivo, it has been shown to reduce neuronal mTOR activity (Alirezaei M et al, 2010).

There are natural compounds that have demonstrated to increase or stimulate autophagy (Lv X-X et al, 2017).

Some of these nutrients that have been identified are (Zhang X et al, 2012):

  • Quercetin
  • Curcumin
  • Resveratrol
  • Oridonin
  • Lectins from plants
  • Green Tea

*Green tea standardized to an important polyphenol, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (Zhang Q et al, 2019).

**EGCG may promote the pathways within cellular mitochondria to stimulate autophagy and adjust AMP-activated protein kinase signaling (AMPK).

In summary, autophagy is a process that cleans house within the body by removing damaged, worn out cells and replacing them with new healthy ones. It is a housekeeping feature of the body that is a recycling type process. It occurs in the cytoplasm (jelly like part) of the cell to help the body stay healthy and contributes to longevity. Exercise, reducing calories in the diet, intermittent fasting and certain nutrients has been shown to promote autophagy.