In this study, researchers at Wuhan Sports University in China summarized several widely investigated bioactive components used as functional foods and their role in autophagy. Their review was published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.
Functional foods, which could be either natural or processed foods that contain bioactive compounds, can provide health-promoting effects beyond basic nutrition.
These foods also offer the benefit of preventing or treating chronic diseases.
The bioactive components in functional foods often have pleiotropic effects, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic (cholesterol-lowering), blood sugar-regulating, cytoprotective and neuroprotective functions.
Autophagy is a highly conserved cellular process used by the body to eliminate aberrant components in eukaryotic cells.
It also plays an essential role in promoting health and preventing or treating several chronic diseases.
When cells are in a stressful condition, autophagy accelerates the clearance of damaged or toxic cellular protein aggregates or dysfunctional cell organelles to maintain homeostasis.
In this review, the researchers focused on several bioactive components of functional foods, such as resveratrol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, curcumin and trehalose, and their regulatory functions in autophagy. They believe this review could serve as a reference or provide novel ideas for the development of functional foods capable of modulating autophagy for the treatment of chronic diseases.