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Can Pomegranates Slow Aging?

  [ 5 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Peter Rufa* • • October 22, 2017

Can Pomegranates Slow Aging?
New research suggests pomegranates may radically alter the way we view aging.

Anti-aging scientists are excited. Recent discoveries with a unique nutrient linked to pomegranates show promise to extend our lives and enhance overall quality of life. The research suggests it may support recall, energy and muscle strength.

This last one is big; it means less frailty with age. This would translate to better mobility and reduce the risk of serious falls. According to the CDC, every year 300,000 adults over age 65 are hospitalized for hip fractures, often due to falling sideways as a result of weakened muscles, or frailty.  Falls like these come with plenty of complications and speed physical decline while increasing the risk of mortality.

The excitement begins with two compounds found in pomegranates: punicaligans and ellagitannins. On their own, they are potent flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties. During digestion, however, these two flavonoids are converted into a molecule known as Urolithin-A.

This molecule works deep within the cells. More importantly, the research shows it can restart a process linked to what some scientists believe may be the number one cause of aging.

A Molecule that Reverses Aging?

We often associate aging with wrinkled skin, gray hair, fatigue and weakness. These visual cues may be signs of aging, but the real changes happen much deeper. They start at the cellular level, in mitochondria, the cells' energy production centers.

Cells require vast amounts of energy, or ATP, to function properly. They burn energy to fuel cell replication and growth. They burn this energy as part of metabolic processes and make muscles work. Even brain cells burn ATP to help us think and remember. Cells also need energy to protect themselves against toxins and free radicals that would disrupt their normal functioning.

Not surprising, young people have an abundance of healthy, well-functioning mitochondria. It fuels their growth. It also gives them that seemingly endless energy adults often wish they could bottle and use at will!

Yet, energy production wears down these energy centers. Creating ATP produces free radical waste by-products.  Cells naturally have a process in place to clean these up, but in time mitochondria will wear down and produce less energy.

Healthy cells recognize this. In response, they break down the worn-out mitochondria and recycle them. It's a process called mitophagy. It removes the poorly performing energy centers and allows for new ones to form and take their place.

Constant exposure to toxins, inflammation, and illness combine to consume a lot of energy. Inflammation and illness can burn up energy as the body tries to keep everything in balance. Toxins can affect the physical structure of cells or disrupt the energy production process.

This increases the number of mitochondria that wear down. As more wear out, the body must recycle more. Of course, the energy needed to recycle them comes from where? The mitochondria!

This begins a downward spiral of reduced energy production. It also leads to a build-up of poorly functioning mitochondria and the breakdown of mitophagy. Cells then lack the energy needed to perform all the tasks they're supposed to.

As the cells weaken, so does the tissue. Muscle tissue becomes weaker; organs don't work as efficiently. Many scientists now believe the breakdown of mitochondrial function may be a primary cause of many conditions related to aging. Some have suggested it may even be the cause of aging itself.

That's where Urolithin-A comes in. The research shows it restores mitophagy in cells. In fact, as professor of neuroscience Patrick Aebischer and co-author of the new study commented:

"It's the only known molecule that can relaunch the mitochondrial clean-up process, otherwise known as mitophagy."

The Ground-breaking Urolithin-A Study

Dr. Aebischer and his team of researchers performed a multi-stage experiment with Urolithin-A. They looked at its impact on aging, mitochondrial regeneration and its impact on strength and energy. Here is what they found.
  • In the first part of the study, they examined the effect of Urolithin-A on C. elegans, a common worm used in experiments, as its cells share many similarities with human cells. At one week, C. elegans is considered old, which allows observations on the effects of aging in a short period of time, even in as little as a week.

    In this study, the lifespan of the worms that received Urolithin-A increased 45% over the control group. The researchers also reported the worms treated with Urolithin-A had less build-up of malfunctioning mitochondria.
  • Next, the researchers studied the effect of Urolithin-A on muscle function in aging mice. The mice that received this extraordinary molecule experienced a 57% increase in spontaneous exercise (they jumped on the exercise wheel more often). They also showed a 9% increase in grip strength.
  • In a shorter follow-up study, the researchers reported endurance improved 42% in older mice that received Urolithin-A treatment.
  • The final part of the study examined the effect of Urolithin-A on muscle function in young mice. Those that received treatment experienced a 65% increase in running capacity measured voluntary activity on an exercise wheel.

The effect of Urolithin-A on cells so similar to human cells shows a lot of promise for this unique and powerful molecule to support health and longevity. While human studies are certainly needed, the outcomes of this study match with previous studies that have evaluated pomegranate and its effect on health.

The Observed Benefits of Pomegranates in Human Trials

Although the focused study of urolithin-A was done with animal subjects, many studies have evaluated the effect of pomegranate on human health. For example, scientists at the University of Rhode Island determined urolithins can cross the blood-brain barrier and may be instrumental in support of brain health.  Additional studies report:
  • Pomegranate nutrients in the form of Pomella® Extract increases HDL cholesterol and lowers levels of heart disease markers such as homocysteine, Hs-CRP, and OX-LDL.
  • Lower, balanced HbA1c blood sugar levels for patients taking Pomella® Extract.
  • Pomegranates have been observed to boost nitric oxide levels.   Nitric oxide makes arteries and veins flexible to ease blood flow.
  • People who eat pomegranates enjoy better digestive health
  • Pomegranates even improve the health and look of skin

With such widespread benefits, researchers around the world continue to study pomegranates and how they can support health. The new discovery of urolithin-A's ability to jump-start mitophagy fits with many of the benefits already observed. The way urolithin-A helps cells recycle and replace worn-out mitochondria suggests it may promote health through a powerful anti-aging mechanism.

Sources of Urolithin-A

Urolithin-A does not occur naturally. It can only be gotten through the digestion of the two flavonoids punicaligans and ellagitannins. Pomegranates provide the greatest density of these two powerful compounds, although they can be found in smaller amounts in some berries and nuts.

Eating pomegranate seeds as well as nuts and berries is a great way to get these two flavonoids. Drinking pure pomegranate juice is another great way. Of course, the best effect for foods like these comes from a lifetime of regular consumption. After all, trying to consume large amounts of any food type may be a challenge for both digestion and the wallet. That's why supplements featuring extracts work so well.

The Best Sources of Urolithin-A

On their own, punicaligans and ellagitannins are quickly metabolized by the human body. This makes isolated extracts of these powerful antioxidants problematic. Nutrients in pomegranate, or pomegranate juice, preserve these two flavonoids during digestion, making them available for conversion into urolithin-A.

While this is certainly an endorsement to consume pomegranate and pomegranate juice, there is an alternative. Pomella® Extract by Verdure Life Sciences® has an extraction process that maintains the nutrient profile necessary to preserve these two potent flavonoids needed for urolithin-A metabolism. This extract delivers the same ratio of nutrients as found in a pomegranate.

This makes Pomella® Extract a simple way to increase the presence of urolithin-A in your body. Of course, while restarting mitophagy and boosting the number of healthy mitochondria in the body is good, they remain vulnerable to factors like inflammation that weaken them.

Support the Effect of Urolithin-A by Lowering Inflammation

Inflammation forces cells to burn energy in an effort to control it. Studies also show it promotes disease. This makes it another powerful factor linked to aging, decreased quality of life and mortality.

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. The typical problem with curcumin however is that it breaks down very fast during digestion, similar to the two pomegranate compounds. This limits the amount of free curcumin available to have a significant effect on inflammation.

Longvida Curcumin® avoids this problem through a proprietary SLCP technology. SLCP is short for solid lipid curcumin particle. This form of curcumin is 65x more bioavailable.

Research shows Longvida Curcumin® helps lower inflammation.
  • A study by North Texas researchers reported it reduced markers of inflammation in athletes following high-intensity exercise, a form of exercise known for promoting inflammation in the body.
  • Another study found it reduced inflammatory markers interleukin-6 and prostaglandin-E2 in treated patients.

Reducing inflammatory markers like this takes stress off of cells. This may help protect mitochondria against accelerated decline. In this way, Longvida Curcumin® supports the mitochondrial renewal and anti-aging effect research suggests pomegranate can help encourage.

Age Well with Two of Nature's Most Powerful Nutrients

Pomegranates support the production of urolithin-A, the only nutrient known to restore mitophagy, the recycling of worn-out mitochondria. Turmeric's powerful compound, curcumin, fights inflammation. This makes it a powerful nutrient to increase the effect of urolithin-A on mitochondrial and cellular rejuvenation. Together, they offer promise to boost energy production at the cellular level. In turn, this would lead to increased physical strength, energy and overall better health as we age - and perhaps even lead to greater longevity.

* Copywriter and researcher Peter Rufa writes for a wide range of clients but specializes in health.  He has written for doctors, supplement providers, healthcare, medical, and fitness organizations and businesses throughout the United States.


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