Compound Found in Pomegranate Has Anti-Aging Effects in Human Trials

New research has discovered the stomach creates a chemical compound that provides anti-aging effects after consuming certain fruits and nuts.  This compound is a metabolite called urolithin A and the human gut uses biomolecules called ellagitannins to create it.  Ellagitannins are found most commonly in pomegranates but also other types of fruit as well as some nuts.  

Ellagitannins are classified as a type of polyphenols, chemicals that naturally occur in fruit and nuts—most notably walnuts, almonds, pomegranates, and berries like strawberries and raspberries.  This study is not the first, of course, to investigate—and confirm—the various health benefits of polyphenols. 

Unfortunately, the study also shows that not everyone produces this compound naturally, during digestion. 

Essentially this study—conducted by scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Amazentis, and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics—indicates that ellagitannins convert to urolithin A during human metabolism in the human gut.  UA, then, was found to slow down the mitochondrial aging process.  

Specifically, the study involved only 60 elderly people who were all in decent health.  Members of the study group were given differently-sized doses of a lab-synthesized UA to determine any potential side effects. The study revealed that single doses of up to 2,000mg, as well as daily doses of 1,000mg for a period of 28 days, were not found to have any notable side effects.  

This is an excellent result, of course, as it was determined this is the very same compound that stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis which, eventually, increases mitochondrial mass. And this is beneficial because stimulating the mitochondrial biogenesis process in this fashion mimics similar stimulation from physical exercise. 

At the end of the day, then, the study points at a possible way to address loss of skeletal muscle mass and overall weakening of the tissue that typically starts around the age of 50.  Since UA is the only compound—that we know of—that can restore the body’s ability to recycle defective mitochondria, the study is just the beginning of a new understanding; and will likely lead to more in-depth study. 

Indeed, study author Prof. Johan Auwerx comments, “These latest findings, which build on previous preclinical trials, really crystallize how UA could be a game-changer for human health.”

The results of this study have been published the journal Nature Metabolism. 

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