There may be a lot more to that old “an apple a day…” adage than you think!
Recent antiaging research says that apples may be the secret to longevity. Scientists have discovered a compound in apples that can slow the death of cells.
A key factor in the aging process is known as “cellular senescence,” or the aging of the cell. When a cell enters this stage, it is no longer able to divide. When that eventually happens, the cell releases inflammatory signals that prompt the immune system to “clear out” that damaged the cell.
Younger bodies can easily remove senescent cells, but as we grow older, our systems become less well equipped to do so. This causes an accumulation of damaged cells, which gives rise to low-level inflammation and then tissue breakup. That results in everything from wrinkles to the more physical and mental decline typical of growing older.
Antiaging researchers have discovered a group of compounds collectively known as senolytics — which are molecules that target and destroy senescent cells to slow down or prevent the aging process. Apples are very high in senolytics, but they are also found in strawberries, onions, and cucumbers. Senolytics are part of the broader family of compounds found in fruits and vegetables known as flavonoids. Flavonoids have been the target of antiaging research for decades. The first such Flavonoid to make major headlines was resveratrol, found in red wine. Resveratrol has been found in clinical trials to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as having many other antiaging properties.
Now, scientists, most notably at the University of Michigan, are testing other flavonoids, such as the senolytics found in apples. Of all the compounds they looked into, the one that was most effective was fisetin, which naturally occurs in high quantities in apples. When treating aging mice with fisetin, the team of researchers at the University saw that it reduced the levels of senescent cells in the animals, prolonging their lifespan and contributing to better health.
“These results suggest,” points out Prof. Robbins, “that we can extend the period of health, termed “healthspan,” even towards the end of life.”
However, he adds that this is just the first step of a much longer research journey, noting, that “There are still many questions to address, including the right dosage, for example.”