The fleshy pink fruit contains a molecule that enables cells to renew, and prevents muscle deterioration and diseases associated with ageing, such as Parkinson’s.
Test results on laboratory rats has been “nothing short of amazing”, say the researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. In some animal tests, the lifespan increased by 45 per cent.
The magic molecule is urolithin A, say the researchers, and this recycles our cells’ power houses, known as mitochondria. As we get older, mitochondria start to fail and accumulate in the cell, which weakens tissues, such as muscles. A build-up of dysfunctional mitochondria is also thought to contribute to diseases that occur more commonly in the elderly.
“Urolithin A is the only known molecule that can relaunch the mitochondrial clean-up process,” says Patrick Aebischer, one of the researchers.
They explain that the fruit contains the precursor of the molecule, which gets converted into urolithin A by the gut; the amount of the ‘right’ flora in the gut determines how much of the molecule gets created. A small minority of people who don’t have any of the right flora won’t get any benefit at all from pomegranates or
pomegranate juice, and so the researchers are developing a product called Amazentis, which helps the process along.