Unlocking the Power of Autophagy: The Top Foods and Herbs to Include in Your Diet

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski April 19, 2023

Autophagy is the natural method your body uses to detox. When your body recycles unhealthy cells and gets rid of them it allows for the creation of new and healthy ones. These newer cells replace the old ones. You may be wondering what the big deal is and why this is so important. The answer is that autophagy helps your body function better. In this article, we are going to learn more about autophagy and discuss some ways to enhance this process.

Autophagy explained

One of the reasons autophagy is so crucial is that it is an essential part of your immune system. You can think of autophagy as your body recycling and flushing out old or unhealthy cells that could potentially harm your health. When you have newer, healthy cells, your body gets stronger. You also become much more resilient to inflammation, pain, stress, and disease. (1)

Benefits of autophagy

Now that you know what autophagy is, you can learn more about some of the benefits it brings to your health. This process is crucial for many reasons. Let’s explore some of them.

Improves mitochondrial health

Mitochondria are membrane-bound cell organelles generating chemical energy that powers a cell’s biochemical reactions. The purpose is to produce energy. All organs need the help of mitochondria to function well. When you have a deficit in mitochondria, you’ll show symptoms in your brain, muscles, and kidneys. A deficiency in mitochondrial health can cause metabolic dysfunction. (2)

Removes old cells

Old cells don’t function at high levels, so they need to be replaced with newer, healthy cells. It’s normal for your cells to age, but it’s equally crucial for new cells to replace them. Autophagy helps rid your body of those older cells and incorporates the new ones.

Stops virally infected cells

Viral pathogens can impact your cellular health. When your body goes through autophagy, it removes those infected cells and replaces them with healthy ones.

Reduces cellular apoptosis

Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death that helps remove unwanted cells. These cells may be damaged. The process is also critical because it helps prevent cancer. Without it, you might have uncontrolled cell division, leading to tumor growth. (3)

Best foods and herbs for autophagy

There are some foods and herbs that naturally enhance autophagy. You’ll want to include these super nutrients in your healthy diet to get all the benefits soon. The best thing is that they are easy to incorporate into any lifestyle and won’t break the bank when it comes to your finances.


We’ve mentioned quercetin before and how it can benefit you, but it also enhances autophagy. (4) In addition, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Quercetin is found in onions, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, and berries. If you feel you don’t eat enough of these foods, you can also include a quality quercetin supplement.


This powerful plant compound is found in red wine, grapes, and berries. Fermented red wine is high in resveratrol. It acts as an antioxidant and has tons of health benefits. Enhancing autophagy is only one of the ways resveratrol is so crucial. It also balances insulin, and blood pressure, and helps with joint pain.


Turmeric is an herb that has been studied and shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Many rheumatologists recommend turmeric for their arthritis patients because it reduces pain and inflammation. (5) Some people add turmeric to meals. It’s a warming spice used in many dishes and teas. It can be hard to get enough turmeric through diet alone, so you may want to look for a supplement to help provide the quantity you need. Be sure you choose a turmeric supplement that provides the maximum bioavailability for the best results.


Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory herb. It’s been used in Chinese medicines for thousands of years. You can put ginger in teas, juices, and dishes, or take it as a supplement. One of the ways you can get even more benefits is to add some ginger and lemon to tea for a powerful antioxidant combination. Ginger is also proven to induce autophagy. (6)


Rosemary is a popular kitchen staple in many homes. It also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that can enhance autophagy. (7) This herb has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for headaches and reducing anxiety. You can add rosemary to lots of dishes and as a topping on steaks. You’ll also get other benefits like better digestive health and improved cognition.

Green tea

Green tea contains a polyphenol called EGCG. It enhances autophagy by mimicking calorie restriction. (8) Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages and green tea is specifically rich in antioxidants. You can enjoy green tea daily anytime as a relaxing treat or a way to help you unwind during the day. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, there are decaf options available at most grocery stores.

A word about fasting

In addition to the methods we’ve mentioned, fasting is one of the best ways to enhance autophagy. If this seems a little overwhelming, you should know that you don’t need to jump into a seven-day water fast to get the benefits. Research has shown that fasting for shorter periods can produce autophagy. (9) Many people find that the sweet spot for them is a 16-hour fast. The easiest way to do this is to stop eating earlier in the day and eat later the next day. Some of the time you’ll spend sleeping, so it makes the process much easier. Once you become adapted to fasting, you can stretch the time for the best results.

Ketogenic diet

Following a ketogenic diet may stimulate autophagy because it promotes ketosis. That’s the metabolic state where your body burns fat rather than sugar. The ketogenic diet mimics fasting, so you can obtain some of the same benefits with this way of eating. (10) With a keto diet, you want to eat high-fat, low-carb foods. These should be whole foods and include things like olive oil, butter, fatty fish, and green veggies.

Transforming your health

Changing your habits will transform your health. Autophagy is a natural form of detoxification and a crucial part of your body’s immune system. By eating the foods and herbs we’ve listed, you can increase your energy, improve mental clarity, and reduce inflammation throughout your body.

You can enhance autophagy for deep cellular healing and reduce the effects of aging and cellular damage. Activating autophagy is an important part of becoming and staying healthy. Try these nutrients and methods to improve your health and see how much better you feel. Transforming your health doesn’t need to be overly complicated. These tools are within your reach to help support the process with natural herbs and foods that taste great and have tons of health benefits for your body. Get started changing your health today with a holistic program that will help you achieve incredible results. We’re here to help you improve your health and reach your wellness goals.


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Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski

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