Wed. May 25th, 2022

SEATTLE, wash. – A substance in pomegranates could be the key to creating a new anti-aging treatment that strengthens muscle and mitochondrial health. Researchers from the University of Washington say that the fruit contains an extract called urolithin A, which they believe can protect against fragility in old age.

Their study showed that older adults who took urolithine A supplements performed better in physical endurance tests. The metabolite compound is also present in some berries and nuts. It boosts the mitochondria – the cells’ powerhouses – and also shows an ability to increase muscle strength.

“This is relevant both for people with chronic diseases and people who want to be more active later in life,” says lead author Professor David Marcinek in a statement from the university.

Pomegranate blend already on store shelves

The composition is also available in pill form and powder in health food stores. The team notes that urolithin A is produced by intestinal bacteria after consuming foods rich in ellagitannins. Humans produce urolithin A at varying rates as diet, age, genetics and disease affect the composition of their microbiome.

Usually, mitochondria run down with age, making them less effective or even toxic – leading to muscle weakness and fragility. However, urolithine A helps the body reuse these drained battery packs, recharge cells and keep aging at bay. Experiments showed that it stimulates “mitophagy” – a phenomenon that Professor Marcinek describes as “mitochondrial quality control.”

Pomegranate study
An endurance exercise required the study participants to repeatedly push their index finger sideways against resistance. (University of Washington)

“Mitochondria are like batteries that drive the cells in your body,” the researcher explains.

“But in time they break down. The process of mitophagy recognizes this failure and proactively tears down the mitochondria, reducing it to elemental components that a cell can reuse. But with aging, mitophagy becomes less effective and your body accumulates this pool of failing mitochondria. It’s a way for the muscles to become less functional as we get older. “

Urolithin A can turn back time

In the study, 66 participants randomly received either 1,000 milligrams of urolithine daily for four months or a placebo. In the beginning, they had average or low levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which mitochondria produce to help the cells function.

The fitness and ATP production of the supplement group would improve if the supplement improved mitophagy. The results show that muscle contractions during exercises involving the hand and legs have actually increased, which supports the idea that urolithine A can reverse the aging clock. The distance people traveled during a six-minute walk also improved markedly, but the participants in the placebo group also experienced improvements.

“Although we did not observe an effect of the supplement on the function of the whole body,” Marcinek notes, “these results are still exciting because they show that simply taking a supplement for a short period of time actually improved muscle endurance. Fatigue resistance improved in the absence of exercise . “

Blood tests also showed that urolithine A reduced chemicals associated with metabolic disorders involving mitochondria.

A new anti-aging treatment for immobile people?

“I think these changes suggest that the treatment is affecting the metabolic state of humans. Although it did not affect the maximum ATP production, it improved the test subjects’ general metabolism, ”says Prof. Marcinek.

Dietary supplements could have the potential to benefit people who are unable to get the exercise they need due to poor muscle health or illness.

“Just getting them over the point where exercise is possible – a walk around the block or climbing some stairs – can help a person build their own health,” the study author concludes.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, was funded by Swiss Amazentis, which manufactures the subsidy used in the experiment.

Previous research has found worms that ingest urolithine A live almost 50 percent longer. Older mice were also able to run 42 percent longer after just six weeks of treatment.

Pomegranates already have a reputation for being a “superfood”. The fruit lowers blood pressure and strengthens the bones.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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