Physical signs of ageing could be slowed down by a compound found in broccoli, cabbage and avocado, scientists claim.
It slowed down the deterioration of liver and eye function, bone density and the metabolism, a new study found.
While it was found to prevent laboratory mice from gaining weight as they aged – despite consuming more food.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) compensated for the loss of energy production, which experts believe is a key driver of the body’s ageing process.
A compound found in broccoli slowed down the deterioration of liver function, bone density, eye function, a new study found.
Researchers tested the compound on older mice to see if it helped to slow their physical ageing signs.
They were also keen to find out if it could alter their metabolism to one expected in younger animals.
Study author Professor Dr Shin-ichiro Imai, from Washington University, St Louis, said: ‘We have shown a way to slow the physiologic decline that we see in ageing mice.
‘This means older mice have metabolism and energy levels resembling that of younger mice.
‘Since human cells rely on this same energy production process, we are hopeful this will translate into a method to help people remain healthier as they age.’
With age, the body is known to lose its ability to make a key element required for producing energy – known as nicotinamide adenine dinulceotide (NAD).
Previous research has shown NAD levels decrease as mice age and it is not effective when given directly to mice.
To boost levels, the researchers had to go one step backwards in the supply chain to find NMN.
When dissolved in drinking water and given to mice, the compound appears in the bloodstream in less than three minutes.
This is quickly converted to NAD in multiple tissues, scientists found.
But researchers warned the compound was only beneficial to older mice and it showed no promise to younger animals.
Co-author Dr Jun Yoshino said: ‘When we give NMN to the young mice, they do not become healthier young mice
‘NMN supplementation has no effect in the young mice because they are still making plenty of their own NMN.
‘We suspect that the increase in inflammation that happens with ageing reduces the body’s ability to make NMN and, by extension, NAD.’
The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
By Stephen Matthews For Mailonline
Published: 27 October 2016