Have you ever heard of the word “Autophagy”?
It refers to a natural process that happens in our body’s cells.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 5 foods that promote autophagy and support healthy aging.
Autophagy is like a cleanup crew that gets rid of old or damaged parts of the cell and makes room for new and healthy parts to grow.
This helps keep our cells and body working properly!
While autophagy happens naturally in your body, certain lifestyle factors like a poor diet or lack of exercise can slow it down.
Fortunately, there are foods you can add to your diet to help boost autophagy and support overall health.
Below are the top 5 foods that promote autophagy.
Foods that Promote Autophagy
The foods below are rich in nutrients that promote autophagy.
Additional nutrients in these foods also protect the body from oxidative stress, a condition that can impair autophagy.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are rich in nutrients that promote autophagy.
These vegetables contain sulforaphane, which activates the Nrf2 pathway, a key regulator of autophagy.
Additionally, these vegetables contain chlorophyll, which can enhance autophagy by stimulating the production of autophagosomes, the cellular structures responsible for removing damaged proteins and organelles.
How to Add Leafy Greens to Your Diet
- Add spinach or kale to your smoothie: Blend a handful of spinach or kale into your morning smoothie for a nutrient-packed start to your day.
- Make a salad: Add a variety of leafy greens to your salad for a healthy and filling meal.
- Sautee with garlic: Sautee spinach or kale with some garlic and olive oil for a delicious and healthy side dish.
- Add to soups or stews: Add chopped leafy greens to your soups or stews for an extra nutrient boost.
- Make lettuce wraps: Use lettuce leaves as a low-carb and healthy alternative to bread for your sandwiches or wraps.
Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s recommended salad kit options for a convenient way to add more leafy greens to your diet – “Anti-Inflammatory Salad Kits Support Healthy Aging”.
Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are packed with antioxidants that can help support autophagy!
These antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress, a condition that can impair autophagy.
Berries also contain flavonoids, which can activate autophagy by inducing the expression of key genes.
Add More Berries to Your Diet
- Snack on berries: Keep a bowl of mixed berries in your fridge for a quick and healthy snack. You can also freeze them for a refreshing treat on a hot day.
- Add to yogurt: Mix fresh berries into your favorite yogurt for a nutritious and tasty snack or breakfast.
- Make a smoothie: Blend berries with milk or yogurt and a handful of leafy greens for a nutrient-packed smoothie.
- Top your cereal or oatmeal: Add fresh or frozen berries on top of your cereal or oatmeal for a delicious and healthy breakfast.
- Make a fruit salad: Combine a variety of berries with other fruits like kiwi, pineapple, and mango for a colorful and nutritious fruit salad.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds, are rich in healthy fats and nutrients that can promote autophagy.
These foods are also high in polyphenols, which have been shown to activate autophagy by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
Nuts can also improve your skin. Check out this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “The 10 Best Foods That Tighten Skin“.
How to Add More Nuts to Your Diet
- Snack on nuts: Keep a small container of mixed nuts in your bag or at your desk for a quick and healthy snack.
- Add to your breakfast: Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of your oatmeal or yogurt for a nutrient-packed breakfast.
- Make nut butter: Make your own nut butter by blending nuts in a food processor until smooth. You can use it as a spread on toast or as a dip for fruits and vegetables.
- Add to your salads: Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of your salads for a delicious crunch and added nutrition.
- Use as a topping: Use nuts as a topping for your smoothie bowls, pancakes, or waffles for a healthy and tasty breakfast or snack.
4. Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols and catechins, which can activate autophagy.
Additionally, green tea has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can help support healthy autophagy.
Green Tea in Your Diet
- Drink it hot: Brew a cup of green tea and enjoy it hot. You can add honey or lemon for extra flavor.
- Make iced green tea: Brew a pot of green tea and let it cool, then pour it over ice for a refreshing and healthy drink.
- Add to smoothies: Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool, then add it to your smoothie for an extra boost of antioxidants and flavor.
- Cook with it: Use brewed green tea as a liquid in your recipes for rice, quinoa, or soup to add a subtle and healthy flavor.
- Use green tea bags: Keep a few green tea bags in your bag or at your desk for a quick and easy way to enjoy green tea anytime, anywhere.
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that can promote autophagy.
Curcumin has been shown to activate autophagy by inducing the expression of autophagy genes and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
How to Add Tumeric to Your Diet
- Use it in cooking: Add turmeric powder to your soups, stews, and curries for a warm and earthy flavor.
- Make a turmeric latte: Mix turmeric powder with milk and honey for a delicious and healthy latte.
- Add to rice or quinoa: Mix turmeric powder into your rice or quinoa for a colorful and flavorful side dish.
- Make a smoothie: Add a pinch of turmeric powder to your smoothie for added anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Make a salad dressing: Mix turmeric powder with olive oil, lemon juice, and honey for a healthy and flavorful salad dressing.
Interested in more foods that support healthy aging? Check out this previous Age-Defying Blog Post “7 Anti-Aging Superfoods to Add to your Diet Today“.
Top Foods that Promote Autophagy Takeaways
In conclusion, incorporating foods that promote autophagy into your diet can have numerous health benefits.
By activating the autophagy process, these foods can help to remove damaged or dysfunctional cells and promote cellular renewal.
Some of the best foods that promote autophagy include green tea, nuts, berries, turmeric, and leafy greens.
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Kathryn is a Registered Dietitian and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is also certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Weight Management. She has 20+ years of nutrition experience working in a variety of healthcare settings. Her passion is to provide evidence-based nutrition information that supports vitality and longevity!