Posted on Jan 20, 2020, 3 p.m.
Pomegranates are considered to be one of the more popular healthy fruits being loaded with polyphenols and anti-aging antioxidants that can help with a variety of health problems such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Pomegranates have been established in studies to help slow down the aging process, recently a compound has been found within the fruit that may be responsible for these benefits. A study published in the journal Nature Metabolism investigated supplementation of urolithin A for its anti-aging benefits in a first ever human clinical trial for its ability to influence on mitochondria and cellular health.
“There are currently no effective solutions to treat age-related decline in muscle function other than months of exercise. This is an important first clinical validation that shows Urolithin A could be a promising solution for the management of healthy muscle function during aging,” said Roger Fielding, a professor at Tufts University who was not involved in the study.
Utithilin A is a microflora derived metabolite found within pomegranates and some other foods, this metabolite was shown to stimulate mitophagy and improve muscle health in older animals. Pomegranates contain ellagitannin polyphenols that when ingested are converted into urolithin A within the gut. However, not all people can develop this on their own, so researchers developed a synthesized urolithin A compound.
For this study researchers from the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatic and the life science company Amazentis enrolled 60 sedentary elderly participants who were divided into 4 groups receiving either urolithin A or a placebo daily for 18 days. Efficacy was assessed by observing and analyzing cellular as well as mitochondrial health biomarkers in participant blood and muscle tissues; based on findings urolithin A was concluded to provide anti-aging effects by improving the functions of the mitochondria, according to the researchers.
Results indicate that urolithin A stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis in the same manner as exercise, and it is the only known compound able to reestablish cell’s ability to recycle defective mitochondria according to the researchers. Mitochondrial biogenesis is the process by which cells increase mitochondrial mass, this happens naturally in younger people but with age the body starts to lose the energy to clean up leftovers and dysfunctional mitochondria which could lead to eventual weakening of tissues and loss of muscle mass/sarcopenia.
“This positive clinical translation of Urolithin A shows its potential to play an important role in advanced nutritional approaches to improve mitochondrial health through mitophagy and biogenesis, and, as a result, cellular health in humans,” said co-author Johan Auwerx. “These latest findings, which build on previous preclinical trials, really crystallize how UA could be a game-changer for human health.”
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