Researchers have found that a compound created in the stomach after eating certain types of fruit and nuts has an anti-aging effect on humans. Called urolithin A, this compound is produced in the human gut from biomolecules called ellagitannins, which are found in pomegranates and other fruits and some nuts. There’s a catch, however: not everyone naturally produces the compound during digestion.
Ellagitannins are a type of polyphenols found in a number of fruit and nuts, the most notable being commonly available products like strawberries, black raspberries, walnuts, pomegranates, almonds, and similar products. Polyphenols as a whole are known to offer a number of important health benefits, ellagitannins included.
According to a new study from EPFL, Amazentis, and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, these molecules are converted in the human gut into the compound urolithin A (UA), which was found to slow down the mitochondrial aging process. Unfortunately, not everyone produces this compound after consuming the molecules, however.
As part of the study, researchers gave 60 elderly people who were all in good health various doses of synthesized UA to determine possible side effects. Single doses up to 2,000mg and up to 1,000mg per day for 28 days weren’t found to have negative impacts on health. That’s good news because the same compound was found to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the process that increases mitochondrial mass.
This is the same effect resulting from regular exercise, according to the study, making UA the only known compound that can restore the ability of the body’s cells to recycle defective mitochondria. This offers a potential way to address the skeletal muscle mass loss and general tissue weakening that starts once someone reaches around the age of 50.
The entities behind the study hope to bring a UA product to market in the relatively near future.