It’s one of the most polarising wedges on a platter, something one is expected to “grow into” as one gets older. And now, this delicious to some, revolting to others item has become the latest superfood in the fight against cancer, dementia and other age-related diseases.
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel are homing in on a food compound called spermidine, which could help stave off cancer, plus Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, along with others.
One of the richest sources of the compound is blue cheese, and the stinkier, the better.
The researchers believe spermidine reverses the body’s circadian rhythm, making it less prone to the age-related diseases. As we age, falling levels of a polyamines in our cells cause circadian rhythms to slow down.
As our circadian rhythm, or body clock slows down, we become more susceptible to age-related diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and inflammation, says senior author, Dr Gad Asher.
Mice studies confirmed that the body clock in mice supplemented with spermidine sped up by eight minutes, whereas those who were engineered to have higher levels of polyamines had a body clock running up to eight minutes slower.
According to Dr Asher and his team, the crosstalk between circadian rhythms and metabolism may serve to fine-tune and reinforce the function of the clock.
“Our findings basically rely on experiments with mice, and if they hold true in humans, they will have broad clinical implications,” Dr Asher said. “The ability to repair the clock simply through nutritional intervention, namely polyamine supplementation is exciting and obviously of great clinical potential.”
However, the doctor urged caution for now.
“I would not recommend that old people rush out for anything, especially not buy polyamines, until this is tested and proven in humans. Even if one consumes high amounts of polyamines, similar to many vitamins, an excess of them will simply not be absorbed or will be secreted in the urine unless the body is in need of them.
“But I do envision testing polyamines in clincial trials as a tool against a wide variety of age-related diseases in humans.”
In the meantime, blue cheese, green peas, soy beans and corn are rich sources of spermidine, so crack out the cheese plate!
Where do you stand on blue cheese? Love it or hate it?