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Pomegranate juice increases lifespan in flies

Fruit flies fed with pomegranate juice lived longer, were resistant to some diseases and produced more offspring, finds a collaborative study between Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Trans-disciplinary University (TDU) and Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore.

The use of pomegranate juice has its roots in Ayurveda, the alternative medical science from ancient India. Among the eight disciplines described in Ayurveda, “Rasayana” deals with methods to rejuvenate, improve the quality of life and delay ageing.

"‘Rasa’ means nourishment and ‘Ayana’ means acquisition, movement or circulation”, said Prof. Padmavathy Venkatasubramanian, a Professor at TDU, who was one of the principal investigators. “Rasayana deals with methods of rejuvenation such as dietary recipes and regimen, herbal and mineral supplements, and health-promoting lifestyles that are said to enhance quality of life and delay aging.”

Gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), pomegranate (Punica granatum), drumsticks (Moringa oleifera) and long pepper (Piper longum) are some of the popular Rasayana, according to Ayurveda. The researchers choose pomegranate for their study because it is a commonly available edible fruit. Pomegranate, which is believed to have originated between Himalayas and Egypt and widely cultivated since ancient times in India,Persia,Mesopotamia,Anatolia, and theArabian Peninsula, is said to have different curative properties according to Ayurveda.

“Rasayanas are said to improve agni (digestion & metabolism), improve nutrient quality (Rasa) and enhance bioavailability of nutrients through micro-circulation", said Prof. Venkatasubramanian. Ayurvedic texts describe pomegranate juice to be wholesome (Pathya), Absorbent (Grahi) and satiating (Trptikara). Previous published studies have shown that pomegranate juice has potential therapeutic applications for curing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dental conditions etc.

In this study, a species of fruit fly called Drosophila melanogaster were grown with two different diets: a routine nutrient medium and another supplemented with pomegranate juice. Flies fed with juice lived longer – 23 days versus 20.8 days (about 19% longer). The fecundity – number of offspring produced – was two times higher in the flies grown with pomegranate juice. They were also more resistant to fungal infection by Candida albicans than flies fed with normal medium.     

The study was jointly conducted by Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore, India, Trans-disciplinary University, Bangalore, India and Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Author Information:

Upendra Nongthomba is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics (MRDG), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Jayaram Mohan, Arunita Chatterjee, and Esha Patnaik are also at MRDG, IISc. Padmavathy Venkatasubramanian is a Professor at the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Trans-disciplinary University, Bangalore. Subramani Paranthaman Balasubramani and Subrahmanya Kumar Kukkupuni are associated with both  FRLHT and Manipal University, Manipal.

Contact:

Email: e-mail: upendra@mrdg.iisc.ernet.in, Phone: 91-80-22933258

The paper appeared in the journal Frontiers of Public Health last month. http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpubh.2014.00245/abstract

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