Mitophagy: Powering Your Longevity
By Erika Lundgren, Functional Nutritionist
Most of us learned in grade school that our cell’s powerhouse, the mitochondria, is our energy-producing structure that fuels our body with adenosine triphosphate aka ATP. What we didn’t learn or know, until recently, is that our mitochondria is highly susceptible to damage, declining their ability to function efficiently over time and one of the biological hallmarks of aging. Luckily for us, our cells have evolved a process known as the mitophagy pathway that keeps these energy-producing factories healthy via an innate quality control mechanism.
What does this look like? When dysfunctional mitochondria accumulate in our cells, which increase as we chronological age, it can cause significant damage. Mitophagy is the process that limits the negative impact of these faulty mitochondria by selectively targeting and breaking them down to recycle into new, more efficient ones. It’s kind of like having our cell’s own recycling system! Optimization of this process is vital for efficiency of our energy production as well as decreasing susceptibility to increased reactive oxygen species which can trigger inflammation.
Aging can impair this process, so you might be asking yourself how can I keep my mitochondria running like a luxury vehicle as years pass.
Exercise! This might be no surprise to you here, but through its role in improving mitochondrial function and mitophagy induction, exercise is one of the best ways to enhance longevity and improve your health. Researchers believe it triggers mitophagy by increasing the proteins involved in this process by energetically stressing these powerhouses. Variety is key here! Create a program that includes aerobic, strength and endurance to keep your powerhouses mighty!
Urolithin A. Gut health is key to everything and this postbiotic compound is currently the only known clinically proven substance to trigger mitophagy. It is produced in our gut from precursors found in walnuts, pecans, berries and pomegranates. This reiterates the old adage, food is medicine!
Mitochondrial Supplements. Think of these as a support system for your mitochondrial health and not specifically for triggering mitophagy.
Currently being studied as other ways to increase mitophagy …
Scheinman, J. (2023, January 22). Understanding mitophagy and its role in longevity. Mito Pure.