An international team of scientists has managed to demonstrate for the first time that spermidine, a naturally occurring polyamine molecule known for its life-prolonging effect in cell and animal cultures, has an anti-aging effect on humans as well. According to the findings of their study, which has followed the diet of 829 individuals from 1995 to 2015, those on a diet rich in spermidine will be able to prolong their healthy life by up to five years.
“The amount of spermidine produced by our bodies declines as we age, especially if we don’t follow a proper diet,” explains Stefan Kiechl from the University of Innsbruck and the study’s leading author. The substance, which occurs naturally in living organisms, is mainly present in humans in sperm, intestinal bacteria, and some cells.
Some foods rich in this molecule are cabbages, peas, cereals, apples, lettuce, mushrooms, nuts, potatoes, and cheese. From the age of 40 onwards, the human body reduces its natural production, so its presence in the diet must be reinforced.
Spermidine can prolong life, the scientists revealed
The researchers point out that the antiaging effect of spermidine is mainly due to its capacity to stimulate autophagy, a process of self-cleaning of cells by which their defective or no longer needed components are broken down and recycled.
“Increased spermidine intake signals the cell to initiate the self-cleaning process and thus protects against deposits and premature aging,” the scientists said.
The research is part of a more extensive study, the so-called “Project K” operated by the Center of Excellence for Research on Vascular Aging (VASCage) at the University of Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria, which seeks to determine the extent to which food components can influence inflammation and aging processes in humans.
The study shows that people who absorbed a minimum of 80 micromoles of spermidine per day had a significantly lower risk of dying in the 20-year observation period.