A new study has shown that a special compound in pomegranate called urolithin can lead to powerful health benefits – including significant anti-aging support. Find out everything you need to know about Urolithin A and using pomegranate for anti-aging.
What is Urolithin?
Urolithin A is a special molecule in pomegranates that, on its own, isn’t anything special. However, when you eat pomegranate, and that molecule encounters the microbes in your gut, it enables your muscle cells to protect themselves against of the major causes of aging.
As one summary posted on ScienceDaily.com explains:
“the effect is nothing short of amazing.” That study describes it as “David against the Goliath of aging.”
Clinical trials in humans are currently underway. However, early results from animal trials have been impressive so far – including one study that led to a whopping 45% increase in lifespan (albeit in worms).
How Did This Study Work?
A team of scientists from a Swiss university (EPFL) set out to discover why pomegranates were widely attributed to anti-aging benefits. They wanted to fight back against supplement manufacturers making ridiculous claims about the benefits of pomegranate.
What they found instead was that pomegranate does legitimately have some health benefits. Those health benefits come from urolithin, which is found in high levels deep within the flesh of the plump, pink fruit. Researchers discovered that this one molecule can have powerful anti-aging effects.
Urolithin specifically works by enabling muscle cells to protect themselves against one of the major causes of aging.
Effects Have Currently Only Been Seen in Nematodes and Rodents
As mentioned earlier, human trials on urolithin are currently underway. The reason people are getting excited about urolithin today is because research on rodents and nematodes was recently published in Nature Medicine.
Those studies reinforce the effects listed above – like the fact that our cells increasingly struggle to recycle their powerhouses (called mitochondria) as we age. As the body gets older, mitochondria are no longer able to carry out their essential functions as efficiently. This degradation affects muscle tissues, organ tissues, and other tissues within the body.
Scientists also believe that a buildup of mitochondria can lead to an increased risk of other diseases – like Parkinson’s and other age-related conditions. In fact, this can be an over-arching cause behind many age-related diseases – mitochondria problems.
Urolithin Caused Lifespan to Increase by 45% Compared to a Control
This is the reason people are getting so excited about urolithin: it wasn’t shown to just mildly increase your health or reduce the effects of aging. Instead, it was shown to increase lifespan by an enormous 45% compared to a control group.
Of course, that test was performed on worms (these are the nematodes we mentioned above). Nematodes are popular for anti-aging tests because they become elderly after just 8 to 10 days – which makes it easy to study the effects of aging.
In any case, the lifespan of worms exposed to urolithin A increased by 45% compared to the control group.
Next, researchers followed up with a rodent study. Obviously, rodents have more in common with humans than worms. Once again, researchers observed a significant reduction in the number of inefficient mitochondria, which indicates that “a robust cellular recycling process was taking place.” Older mice, around two years of age, showed 42% better endurance while running than equally old mice in the control group.
Pomegranate Doesn’t Actually Contain Urolithin A
Don’t run out to the supermarket and buy pomegranate right away. The fruit itself doesn’t contain the miracle molecule.
Instead, as mentioned above, pomegranate contains a precursor to urolithin. When that precursor enters your body and encounters microbes in your intestine, it will get converted into urolithin A.
This is an important difference because the amount of urolithin A you get from pomegranate varies widely between individuals. Those who have more efficient gut microflora may get more urolithin from each serving of grapefruit, for example, while others might not get any significant amount of urolithin.
Many nuts and berries also contain some amount of urolithin – although it’s a smaller amount.
Don’t have the right microbe?
Scientists are already working on a supplement that can increase levels of urolithin regardless of whether you have the microbe or not. That supplement is being created by a European start-up company named Amazentis – which is preparing to conduct its first clinical trials on humans at hospitals in Europe.
As with all early research, we don’t know for sure if any of the above effects will be replicated in humans. Stay tuned to hear more about pomegranate’s anti-aging effects in the future.