A substance in broccoli, cucumber, and avocado had a significant anti-aging effect.
Scientists in the US have discovered a natural compound in avocado, broccoli, and cucumber that has “very significant anti-aging effects” as demonstrated in experiments on mice – and could also work in humans.
The researchers, who have begun clinical trials on a small group of people, explained that mice treated with the compound, called NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide), enjoyed a number of beneficial effects. The level of physical activity of mice increased, the density of bones and muscles improved, the immune system and liver performed better, their vision improved, and they even lost weight.
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Researchers began investigating the properties of a protein called NAD, which is involved in energy production in the body. As animals age, they produce less NAD, and this process is considered to be a part of the aging process. Attempts to add additional NAD failed, so the researchers looked at a way to increase its production in the body.
As part of the experiment, they gave the mice the substance NMN, which is also found in cabbage, to see if this would boost NAD levels and then lead to a rejuvenating effect. Asked if this worked, lead researcher Professor Shin-Ichiro Imai, of the University of Washington at St. Louis, said:
“The answer is yes. In fact, NMN has remarkable anti-aging effects on mice. The mice certainly had more health and life – and if this substance continues to work in the same way it may lead to a longer lifespan. We found a way to slow down the physiological effects of aging that we see in older mice. This means that the larger mice with the help of the substance gained levels of metabolism and energy that resembles that of the younger mice.”– Professor Shin-Ichiro Imai, of the University of Washington at St. Louis
Trials Into humans
The professor expressed optimism that clinical trials with humans underway in Japan will produce similar results. “Since human cells rely on the same energy production process, we are optimistic this will translate into a method to help people stay healthier as they age,” he said.
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However, as the study showed, there could be a significant side effect – the NAD protein could also give an energy boost to cancer cells.
“Some cancer cells are known to have a greater ability to synthesized NAD and that is why we were concerned that by giving NMN we may increase the risk of cancer,” professor Imai said. However, we did not notice any difference in cancer rates between the groups [of mice] we examined in the experiment.”– Professor Shin-Ichiro Imai, of the University of Washington at St. Louis
The researchers, who published their results in the journal Cell, added the benefits appeared only in larger mice.
“When we give NMN to young mice, young mice do not become healthier,” said Professor Yoshino, who also took part in the research. “NMN supplements had no effect on young mice because the production of protein was very high in their bodies. We suspect that the increase in inflammation that occurs with aging reduces the body’s ability to produce NMN and, by extension, NAD.”