Want to have a body that doesn’t age? Eat carrots! Seriously, eat carrots (from Japan.) According to a group of European researchers discovered that a Japanese relative of the carrot might hold the key to longevity.
Their study findings say that the flowering ashitaba (Angelica keiskei) plant that is traditionally used in Asian medicine contains a flavonoid called 4.4’ dimethoxychalcone or DMC, which is said to have superior health benefits when testing 180 subclasses of flavonoids for their anti-ageing properties.
As reported in the journal Nature Communications, DMC was the research team’s ‘top hit,’ outperforming other known protective compounds, including resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine.
The large research team was led by Frank Madeo and Guido Kroemer from the University of Graz in Austria and the Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers in Paris, France. “Our rationale was that there are a million years of coevolution between animals (humans) and plants, which is probably the reason why many of the blockbusters in medical treatment are plant-based substances,” says Madeo.
DMC prolonged the lifespan of yeast, fruit flies, worms and cells in the series of experiments. It also showed protective benefits for heart and liver in mice.
Further experiments using “genetic tricks” revealed that, in most cases, DMC switches on the fasting response of cells.
This process is called autophagy: “a cellular cleansing and recycling program”, explains Madeo, that sweeps damaged protein and mitochondria out of cells – both causes of age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia. Other ways to induce autophagy include fasting and calorie restriction.
Whether the findings are transferable to humans remains to be seen. But the researchers could detect DMC in the blood of mice fed with chow enriched with the compound, suggesting that mammals can absorb it from food.
And Asians have long used ashitaba – the only natural source of DMC that the researchers could find – for its longevity and health-promoting properties.
We'll conclude how we began - eat carrots for agelessnes.