Spermidine-rich diets keep people young longer
For centuries people have been looking for ways to preserve eternal youth. Last but not least, the cosmetics industry has taken up this wish and promises to keep the exterior young at least longer using a variety of methods. The key to an extended “youth” could, however, lie in nutrition. A current study concludes that a diet rich in spermidine keeps people young longer.
In the international research project led by the Medical University of Innsbruck, the anti-aging effect of spermidine has now also been demonstrated for humans for the first time. "Those who consume a lot of spermidine with their food may extend their healthy lifespan," said the MedUni Innsbruck. Researchers have published their results in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN).
Looking for life-extending mechanisms
Medical research has been trying to track down health-promoting and life-prolonging mechanisms for many years. Almost two years ago, scientists at the University of Graz had already determined that special types of cheese prolonged the relative lifespan and attributed this effect to the spermidine contained. The natural polyamine "spermidine" has a life-prolonging effect in cell culture and in animals, the authors of the current study explain.
Spermidine intake correlates with life expectancy
The researchers have now used the data from 829 volunteers from the prospective Bruneck study to investigate the extent to which life-prolonging effects occur when people take high spermidine. In addition, the food intake of the participants was determined on the basis of specific diet questionnaires. The scientists calculated the extent to which the amount of spermidine consumed in the diet correlated with the lifespan. They found that high spermidine intake via the diet (at least 80 micromol spermidine per day) was associated with a significantly lower risk of dying in the 20-year observation period.
Inflammation and aging processes slowed down
The survival advantage of spermidine-rich compared to low-spermidine diet (below 60 micromoles per day) was around five years, according to the study authors. In the current studies, "we were able to confirm the effects of spermidine on age-related processes, which are already known from various model organisms, and to underpin its role as an independent factor influencing the lifespan of humans for the first time," explains neurologist Stefan Kiechl from the MedUni Innsbruck in a press release on the Study results. The effect is based on the systemic influence of spermidine on inflammatory and aging processes.
Compensate for loss of spermidine in the diet
The level of spermidine in our body naturally decreases with increasing age. The spermidine can be found in high concentration in the seminal fluid, but in low concentrations also in other body cells. Certain intestinal bacteria also produce spermidine. According to the researchers, the decrease in spermidine in the body can be counteracted "by eating spermidine-rich foods such as germ vegetables, peas, whole grains, apples, lettuce, mushrooms, nuts, potatoes or aged cheese." Already by eating two portions of whole grain bread every day , two portions of lettuce and one apple would be in the upper third of the spermidine intake, the experts continued.
Autophagy is stimulated
According to the scientists, the life-prolonging effect of spermidine is based primarily on the ability to stimulate autophagy. This serves to break down and utilize faulty or no longer required cell components so that they do not accumulate in the organism. Because autophagy loses efficiency in old age, disease-related deposits occur in the cells, which in turn can lead to dementia, diabetes, tumors and atherosclerosis, the researchers report. The self-cleaning process of autophagy is initiated by the spermidine intake, as well as by fasting for several hours. "The increased intake of spermidine signals the cell to start the self-cleaning process and thus protects against deposits and premature aging," emphasizes Stefan Kiechl. (fp)