Pomegranates – the anti-ageing superfood?

A team of scientists at EPFL in Switzerland explored the anti-ageing benefits of pomegranates.

As we age our cells struggle to maintain their cellular powerhouses knows as mitochondria. These cells are unable to carry out their vital function and begin to accumulate in cells. The degradation of mitochondria begin to accumulate and is known to be a cause of many diseases such as Parkinson’s.

A molecule found in pomegranates, urolithin A, has been discovered to restore the cells ability to recycle defective mitochondria. “It’s the only known molecule that can relaunch the mitochondrial clean-up process, otherwise known as mitophagy,” says Patrick Aebischer, co-author on the study. “It’s a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable.”

The scientists tested their hypothesis on elegans (worms).  It’s scientists’ favourite test subject because after 8-10 days it is considered elderly. The lifespan of worms exposed to urolithin A increased by more than 45% compared with a control group.

Pomegranates contain the precursor to urolithin A. Bacteria in the gut transform the molecule into urolithin A. So the amount actually produced will vary depending on the flora present in the gut microbiome.

According to study co-author Johan Auwerx, it would be surprising if urolithin A weren’t effective in humans. “Species that are evolutionarily quite distant, such as C elegans and the rat, react to the same substance in the same way. That’s a good indication that we’re touching here on an essential mechanism in living organisms.”

Johan Auwerx emphasizes the game-changing importance of these studies. “The nutritional approach opens up territory that traditional pharma has never explored. It’s a true shift in the scientific paradigm.”