A molecule in pomegranates when eaten gets transformed by microbes in the gut enabling muscle cells to protect themselves against one of the major causes of ageing, found researchers, perhaps giving a shot in arm for more consumption of the fruit.
The powerhouse in our cells called mitochondria finds it difficult as we age and degrade affecting the health of many tissues, including muscles, which gradually weaken over the years, thus building up to aging and let related diseases like Parkinson’s, said scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Amazentis company in Switzerland.
The newly identified a molecule, however, managed to re-establish the cell’s ability to recycle the defective mitochondria: urolithin A, a process called mitophagy. “It is a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable,” said Patrick Aebischer from EPFL as researchers tested their hypothesis on the nematode C elegans.
The lifespan of worms exposed to urolithin A increased by more than 45% when tested on rodents. Older mice, around two years of age, showed 42% extra endurance compared to those not given the test in the control group.
However, the pomegranate fruit does not help directly but it has the ‘miracle molecule’ that can act as a precursor. However, it depends on the amount of urolithin A produced in the gut microbiome and some individuals do not produce any at all, they said.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.