It’s possible to actually eat your way to longevity through a biological process called autophagy. The name comes from two Greek words—auto meaning “self” and phagy meaning “to eat.” Essentially, autophagy means self-eating. While that might not sound very appealing, it is extremely beneficial. My simple explanation: Autophagy allows your cells to eat away damage, keeping you healthy. But as we get older, it becomes less efficient and damage accumulates. That buildup eventually slows down cell function and in turn can lead to a sluggish metabolism, decreased collagen and elastin production, and other diminished performance.
The good news—you can get your cells to self-cannibalize again! Yes, I know how odd that sounds, but it’s much easier and more enjoyable than you might think. All you have to do is eat! There are compounds in certain foods that aid in autophagy. And the best part: They are probably already in your kitchen!
Here are my top 10 foods for looking and feeling way younger:
This autophagy-activating polyphenol regulates life span and your metabolism. It can also protect against free radical destruction, increase fat breakdown, and help stave off hunger. Look for chocolate with at least 70 percent “cocoa solids” on the label as these generally have more polyphenols than ones with lower percentages, according to a study in the Journal of Functional Foods.
Eggs contain a compound called sphingolipids that aids in autophagy. Think of a brick wall. Sphingolipids are like mortar, the sticky substance that holds the bricks together. As the wall ages, the mortar can break down, causing the bricks to crumble and the entire structure to lose its strength. But you can keep your mortar strong by eating sphingolipid-rich foods. Doing so will benefit your skin, keeping it fuller, plumper, and smoother.
Sphingolipids also help regulate neurotransmitters, important in healthy brain function. Read: better moods, better decision-making, increased critical thinking, and improved memory.