Israeli neurologist, nanotech expert make pomegranate oil capsules that send antioxidants where they can have the most effect
As Jewish families across the world reach for the pomegranate that they customarily eat on Rosh Hashanah, they may not realize that the fruit, with its juicy red seeds and crown-like crest, could hold a key to graceful aging.
Common daily activities, such as digesting food and breathing, create free radicals that result in oxidation and damage to human cells, in particular to brain cells. Unlike blood or skin cells, brain cells do not get replaced by new ones. So free radicals are harmful to our health and end up impairing our thinking, memory, orientation and alertness, among others.
Degenerative brain disease and brain atrophy are typical of debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in which brain cells are destroyed, followed by rapid functional and behavioral deterioration and eventual death.
The number of people worldwide living with dementia, for example, is expected to almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2010 and 131.5 million in 20150, according to Alzheimers’ Disease International.
Fighting fire with food
Aging and brain degeneration are a natural and unavoidable process, explained Gabizon, but they can be accelerated or slowed down depending on our lifestyles.
Antioxidants are known for their ability to protect against the destruction of brain and body cells. They can be found in foods such as cranberries, blueberries, beans, artichokes, pecans and foods containing Vitamin E.
“If we are able to control the levels of free radicals, maybe our cells will work better and live longer,” Gabizon said. “Our approach is that even if we cannot cure the severely affected patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, since they are diagnosed at a stage when large numbers of brain cells are already dead, perhaps we can delay the disease’s advance at early stages or even prevent disease outbreak in healthy people at risk of developing neurodegeneration, which is actually most of us.
“This, by extending the life span of brain cells, and improving their functioning even under dire conditions in which the body is filled with ‘biological garbage’ like the destructive oxidizing free radicals.”