Inside brain cells, there are small packets of special enzymes called autophagosomes that remove damaged parts of the cells, such as severely damaged mitochondria, ribosomes, and endoplasmic reticulum. These autophagy enzymes break down damaged cell components called organelles, which are then used to make new organelles.
In the brain, most autophagy occurs within the synapses, the places where damage from Alzheimer’s disease first occurs.
Mitochondria generate most of the energy for cells, and are especially critical for brain function because brain cells require more energy than any other cells in the body. Normally, as mitochondria age they are broken down by autophagy and the components are used to make new mitochondria. But because senescent brain cells have impaired autophagy systems, they are unable to renew the aging mitochondria. As a result, the neurons are starved of energy and begin to lose their function — leading to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and a number of other brain disorders.
Studies have consistently shown that autophagy plays a critical role in life span and longevity. Fortunately, there are ways to restore impaired autophagy in cells. Because brain cells are not generally renewed, like other cells in the body, it is important to improve senescent brain cells.
Newer studies indicate that senescent brain cells can be restored to a more functional status. Several natural substances can stimulate autophagy. These include:
• Curcumin (nano-curcumin)
• Quercetin (nano-quercetin)
• EGCG (nano-EGCG)
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