Scientists discovered the secret to staying youthful is eating chocolate and drinking red wine. Both helped to rejuvenate old cells, making them look younger and start to behave more like young cells.
As we age, the strands of DNA in our cells gradually lose the protective telomeres. The telomeres act like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.
The research team applied compounds based on chemicals naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries to cells in the laboratory. The foods are rich in flavonoids, known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers found that within hours of treatment, the so-called reversatrol analogues, the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres. The breakthrough could lead to anti-aging therapies.
The team at Exeter University, supported by researchers at Brighton University, builds on their earlier findings that showed that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age.
Lead researcher Professor Harries said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.
“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back to the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
Dr. Eva Latorre, the research associate at the University of Exeter, carried out the experiments and was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells.
She said: “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it.
“These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research.”
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