From P.D. Mangan:
“Autophagy is the regulated process in which cells break down their own constituents, such as proteins and organelles like mitochondria, into their more basic parts such as amino acids, and recycle them for later use, either burning them for fuel or using them to make new structures. The cell replaces the old parts that it’s destroyed and replaces them with brand new ones.
In this way, autophagy provides for renewal.
Autophagy is critically important in aging and disease. One of the most characteristic aspects of aging is a decline in the levels of autophagy. Since aging by definition is an increase in the susceptibility to disease, it can be seen how important autophagy is to all diseases.
Autophagy relates to virtually all chronic diseases in one way or another, and even some non-chronic diseases, like infection. It’s important in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.Autophagy declines in aging. A salient characteristic of youthful organisms is a robust response to stimuli of autophagy, most notably the absence of food, or fasting.When old, the level of autophagy is only 20% or less in some mammals than that seen in youthful members of the same species. Increasing it to youthful levels is perhaps the most important thing within our control to slow the aging process.”
Steve Parker, M.D.