Obesity, arterial hypertension, high triglyceride levels, low levels of “good” cholesterol or high levels of “sugar” in the blood. These are some of the factors that make up what is known as metabolic syndromerelated to heart diseaseand other pathologies such as ictusthe renal insufficiencythe fatty liver, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
Science has shown a close relationship between all these factors and diseases, also typical of age. While metabolic diseases impose stress on cardiovascular function, causing premature cardiovascular aging.
In search of new strategies to combat cardiovascular aging caused by metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, some studies, such as the one carried out by Ren et al (2018), point to autophagy as a key actor.
What is autophagy?
The US National Cancer Institute defines autophagy as the process by which the cell breaks down and destroys old, damaged, or abnormal proteins and other substances in its cytoplasm (liquid inside the cell)”.
A main feature of this process is that the resulting products are recycled for important cellular functions, especially during periods of stress or fasting. According to the INC, “autophagy also helps destroy viruses and bacteria that cause infection and may keep normal cells from becoming cancerous“.
Can it improve our life expectancy?
Numerous publications have confirmed the close relationship between autophagy and aging. Over the years, the tissue accumulates cell debris and dysfunctional structures. If autophagy isn’t working properly, that buildup becomes increasingly detrimental to our overall health.
The body uses the mechanism of autophagy to eliminate toxic material. The problem is that, as you age, this “cleaning” loses its effectiveness.
Although autophagy is a very complex process that, under normal conditions, occurs naturally and is highly regulated, many studies suggest that inducing An increase in this mechanism can reduce the risks and negative effects of diseases associated with aging.
There are extensive benefits associated with autophagy, among which are the prevention of metabolic disordersthe neuroprotection or those associated with aging.
A study A recent study from the University of Oviedo has shown that “autophagy is necessary for the extension of longevity in animal models, and, second, that without autophagy the average life expectancy is drastically shortened“. According to the author, the findings contribute to “reaffirm the essential role of autophagy in maintaining health and determining longevity“.
Another post from Yano et al (2020) aimed to elucidate the role of autophagy in disease prevention and antiaging, in a context where “The aging of the population [en los últimos años] in society has been increasing on a global scale”, raising “concerns about the increase in health problems”.
The authors note that “autophagy contributes to maintaining health and preventing the onset of disease by recycling intracellular components“as well as that”recent evidence has shown that autophagy plays a potential role in the extension of health“.
On the other hand, Yano and his collaborators suggest that “decreased autophagic activity has been associated with aging” Yet the “appearance of various diseases associated with age, such as neurodegeneration“.
The authors also note that “animal models with artificially enhanced autophagic activity have shown long lifespan while maintaining exercise capacity” and conclude, therefore, that “enhancing autophagy contributes to health promotion“.
A conclusion that they also reach Woodall and Gustafsson (2018)in his studio Autophagy: A Key Pathway for Heart Health and Longevity. The authors suggest that “stimulation of autophagy improves cellular health and cardiac function and increases life expectancy in numerous model organisms“.
For Woodall and Gustafsson, this mechanism represents a beneficial tool for achieving cellular vitality and for the treatment of age-related cardiac pathologies.
Caloric restriction as a way to induce autophagy
As we have seen before, autophagy occurs especially during periods of stress or fasting. In this context, caloric restriction has been postulated as one of the pathways capable of inducing autophagy.
In fact, in a recent article on caloric restriction and life expectancy we saw as a study had shown that voluntary caloric restriction in humans increased life expectancy.
Science has shown that caloric restriction, in its different formats, such as intermittent fastinginduces autophagy (Alirezaei et al, 2010) Although research is lacking, it appears that the stress produced by fasting and caloric restriction is responsible for the increase in autophagy.
In another recent article by Planeta Triathlon on the importance of diet in cardiometabolic health we saw as a study of 2017 (Francois et al) showed that “carbohydrate restriction decreases postprandial hyperglycemia, limiting the deleterious metabolic and cardiovascular consequences of excessive swings in blood glucose“.
Much earlier, in 2005, bergamini already concluded that “the intake ad libitum (overfeeding) can negatively affect longevity“by producing” metabolic and endocrine changes [que] inhibit macroautophagy and slow the turnover rate of long-lived proteins, cell membranes, and organelles“.
According to the researcher from the University of Pisa (Italy), these circumstances accelerate the aging process, while caloric restriction or physical exercise can stimulate macroautophagy prolonging the life span.
Therefore, it is a clear fact that, in order to age better and improve life expectancy, healthy eating and calorie control must be two tools to take into account.
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