Anti-ageing substance produced from digesting pomegranates
The fight against ageing continues. Researchers working for a start-up biotech company have discovered the beneficial effects of urolithin A1
, a substance produced during the digestion of pomegranates
, sometimes referred to as ‘the fruit of the gods’.
Urolithin A is produced when antioxidant compounds called ellagitannins – found abundantly in pomegranates - are broken down2,3
. This metabolic conversion varies depending on the individual and their gut microflora: researchers found that pomegranate consumption produced more urolithin A in some people than others, though they were unable to explain why 4
. In any case, it was the substance itself which interested them. They observed that in vitro, it increased the lifespan
of nematode worms, with short- and long-term effects. On further investigation, they identified the mechanism responsible for this beneficial effect: urolithin A relaunches a mitochondrial clean-up process essential for good health but which declines with age. Dysfunctional mitochondria may actually play a role in the majority of degenerative diseases, and particularly in the loss of muscle mass seen in older people, itself an important risk factor for mortality5
The next step is to examine this very promising substance for its anti-ageing effects in humans, and over time. In the meantime, we will have to be satisfied with eating fresh pomegranate or taking purified supplements (such as Double Pomegranate
) to benefit from urolithin A .When you think of the pomegranate’s remarkable antioxidant potency 6
and many health virtues, this is not such a bad option …
1-Dongryeol Ryu, Laurent Mouchiroud et al. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nature Medicine, July 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nm.4132
2- Johanningsmeier, S.D. & Harris, G.K. Pomegranate as a functional food and nutraceutical source. Annu. Rev. Food Sci. Technol. 2, 181–201 (2011).
3- Espín, J.C., Larrosa, M., García-Conesa, M.T. & Tomás-Barberán, F. Biological significance of urolithins, the gut microbial ellagic acid–derived metabolites: the evidence so far. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013,270418 (2013).
4-Tomás-Barberán, F.A., García-Villalba, R., González-Sarrías, A., Selma, M.V. & Espín, J.C. Ellagic acid metabolism by human gut microbiota: consistent observation of three urolithin phenotypes in intervention trials, independent of food source, age and health status. J. Agric. Food Chem. 62, 6535–6538 (2014).
5- Drummond, M.J. et al. Downregulation of E3 ubiquitin ligases and mitophagyrelated genes in skeletal muscle of physically inactive, frail older women: a crosssectional comparison. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 69, 1040–1048 (2014).
6- Gil MI, Tomas-Barberan FA, Hess-Pierce B, et al. Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48:4581-9.
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