Purpose of Review: In recent years, the aging population in society has been increasing on a global scale, leading to concerns regarding increasing health problems. Preventive medicine plays a major role in extending healthy life expectancy in aging societies, and there is an increasing demand for functional foods that can be ingested for a long period of time before health is impaired. The aim of the present review is to briefly elucidate the role of autophagy in disease prevention and anti-aging. The application of autophagy in health promotion using functional foods has also been discussed. Recent Findings: Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that contributes to the maintenance of health and prevention of disease onset by recycling intracellular components. Recent evidence has shown that autophagy plays a potential role in extending health span. Autophagic activity decline has been associated with aging, leading to the onset of various age-associated diseases such as neurodegeneration. Conversely, animal models with artificially enhanced autophagic activity have demonstrated an extended lifespan while maintaining the ability to perform exercise. Therefore, the enhancement of autophagy is anticipated to contribute to health promotion. Although prior studies have described the upregulation of autophagy by food, several of them have not been evaluated using an appropriate method. Summary: This paper focuses on autophagy, which is closely related to health maintenance and disease prevention, and summarizes recent studies on the function of food in autophagy and on extending health span from the viewpoint of health and food science.
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