Nature sub-publication: eat more of these fruits to help boost immune function
International Business Department Liu Bojia September 11, 2023
Viral infections, anemia or leukemia, and tumors all tend to be more likely to occur in older people, and this has a lot to do with the low functioning of the immune system that accompanies aging.
The immune system has various types of blood cells, which are the mainstay of health. However, hematopoietic stem cells, which are the "source" of all types of blood cells and provide fresh blood to the body, lose their regenerative ability as we age. In addition, the productive properties of hematopoietic stem cells become unbalanced, showing a preference for producing specific types of cells, such as myeloid cells. All of this can lead to immune system dysfunction.
Because of this, it is important to help rejuvenate aging hematopoietic stem cells and improve immune function if you want to slow down the aging process and prevent and fight many age-related diseases. However, there is a lack of effective methods to reverse the aging of hematopoietic stem cells.
A recent research paper in Nature Aging, a subspecialty of Nature that focuses on the biology of aging, suggests a solution that could help "rejuvenate" hematopoietic stem cells and the immune system.
In the paper, researchers at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) found that the abnormal accumulation of damaged mitochondria in hematopoietic stem cells is an important factor contributing to the decline of their hematopoietic capacity. Therefore, improving the state of cellular mitochondria could help hematopoietic stem cells regain their hematopoietic function.
Fortunately, scientists have long since discovered a substance that can improve the state of cellular mitochondria in animal experiments: urolithin A (urolithin A). Evidence from several studies suggests that urolithin A helps promote the recycling and renewal process of mitochondria.
Urolithin A is not directly available through food, but when we consume ellagitannins and ellagic acid, these two substances are metabolized by the body's intestines and converted into urolithin A. Ellagitannins and ellagic acid are abundant in berries and nuts such as pomegranates, blueberries, and walnuts. That said, we can still supplement urolithin A to some degree with these foods to help improve mitochondrial function.
In addition, urolithin A can also be directly supplemented through dietary supplements. In experiments, researchers gave urolithin A oral supplements to older mice and observed that their hematopoietic system was revitalized. And with improved hematopoiesis, the older mice also had improved immune function and greater resistance to viral infections.
It's worth noting that some other previous studies have found through animal experiments that urolithin A supplementation also helps to restore muscle function, which is also important for fighting aging. However, these findings obtained in animal studies need to be followed up with clinical trials to further validate the benefits to human health.