Compound found in semen could ‘slow ageing’ and reduce disease risk
Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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When it comes to living a longer life, a number of lifestyle habits are often cited as some of the key factors. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, not smoking and cutting back on alcohol are all recommended, for example. But taking a certain supplement that boasts multiple health benefits could also help.
According to Edward van Harmelen, the founder of supplement company Youth and Earth, spermidine supplements can not only slow ageing but protect against dementia and heart disease.
Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, he said: “Spermidine is a naturally occurring polyamine in food sources such as aged cheese, soy products, mushrooms, whole wheat, and buckwheat.”
Promoting cellular longevity
He said: “Spermidine studies have shown it can activate autophagy, which may slow ageing and reduce the risk of age-related diseases.
“However, as we age, our spermidine levels and autophagy rate decline – leaving cells more exposed to damage.
“Calorie-restricted diets and fasting can enhance autophagy. Thus, a spermidine supplement can act as a ‘caloric restriction and fasting mimetic’ with overall health-promoting effects.
“Autophagy can help to clear out damaged or abnormal proteins and organelles that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
“Additionally, autophagy can help to promote the formation of new synapses and stimulate neurogenesis, which can improve cognitive function and protect against age-related cognitive decline.”
This was backed by a study published in the Wiener klinische Wochenschrift journal in 2020.
It said: “The results clearly show that oral spermidine intake significantly correlates with the improvement of cognitive performance and therefore has a positive effect on it.
“The cohort that received the higher dosage of spermidine (group A) showed an improvement in the groups of participants with mild and moderate dementia.”
Mr Van Harmelen continued: “In cancer, it can inhibit the growth of blood vessels that feed tumours and help cancer cells evade the immune system by removing the ‘waste’ by-products that would otherwise attract immune cells.”
A separate study, from Pharmacological Research in 2020, concluded: “Based on these observations and the absolute requirement for polyamines in tumour growth, spermidine could be a rational target for chemoprevention and clinical therapeutics of cancers.”
“In the case of heart disease, autophagy has been shown to help protect against heart damage and promote the repair of damaged heart tissue,” Mr Van Harmelen said.
“Autophagy can remove damaged mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy for the cell, which can help to reduce inflammation and prevent the accumulation of harmful substances that contribute to heart disease.
“Additionally, autophagy can help promote the formation of new blood vessels, improving blood flow to the heart and helping to repair damaged heart tissue.”
Research published in Science journal in 2018 said: “Increased uptake of spermidine has protective effects against cancer, metabolic disease, heart disease, and neurodegeneration.”
Skin and hair
Mr Van Harmelen added: “Research has shown that spermidine may have anti-ageing benefits for the skin and hair.
“One study found that secretions from streptococcus bacteria in the skin microbiome can boost the formation of elastin, collagen, and lipids in older skin cells, improving the skin’s barrier function and structure.
“At the same time, another explained how it can stimulate hair growth.”
Spermidine-rich foods include:
- Wheat germ
- Aged cheese
- Shiitake mushrooms
It can also be taken as a daily supplement in tablet or powder form.
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