Over time, humans evolved to live longer because of our ability to respond better to biological stressors. Now, a Newcastle University study finds that this ability is due to small adaptations in a protein known as p62 that induce autophagy (“self-eating”), a vital process where your body cleans out damaged cells and toxins to help regenerate newer, healthier cells.
Autophagy is the key to improved human lifespan
Over time, our cells accumulate a variety of dead organelles, damaged proteins, and oxidized particles that clog their inner workings, accelerating aging, inducing dementia, and increasing the risk of cancer as well as other age-related diseases. Because many of our cells, like those in the brain, need to last a lifetime, the body has developed a unique way of getting rid of those faulty parts and defending itself naturally against disease. The body’s natural cleaning process, which recycles the junk in your cells and turns it into energy, is known as autophagy. There are several ways you can turn on your body’s autophagy process (that have nothing to do with juice cleanses). When you activate autophagy, you slow down the aging process, reduce inflammation, and boost your body’s natural ability to function.
Study reveals protein p62 induces autophagy
According to the Newcastle study, this is where a protein called p62 comes in. By sensing the metabolic byproducts that cause cell damage (called reactive oxygen species ROS), protein p62 activates to induce autophagy, or start cleaning. That’s when they remove all the damaged goods that have accumulated in your body, so that you’re better equipped to handle biological stress – and this is what keeps you young and healthy.