Nutrition experts recommend zinc as a food additive
Staying young and healthy for a long time is a top priority for most people. But why do we age at all and can this process be stopped or slowed down? According to a German research team, zinc can help to slow down aging and develop better defences against disease.
Researchers at the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg have investigated how oxidative stress, which is at least partly responsible for the ageing process and for reduced life expectancy, can be reduced. Together with researchers from the USA, the team discovered that zinc offers protection against oxidative stress. Especially when taken in combination with certain foods such as chocolate, tea or coffee. The study results were recently published in the journal “Nature Chemistry”.
Zinc – a new fountain of youth?
The research team led by Professor Dr. Ivana Ivanović-Burmazović has discovered that the trace element zinc can protect against superoxides. Superoxides are produced in the body as a result of oxygen utilization. These highly reactive molecules cause damage to numerous cells, proteins and lipids as well as to the human genome. In this way, ageing is accelerated. This process is called oxidative stress. However, zinc alone cannot stop this process. Researchers report that zinc can only develop its protective effect if it is taken in combination with certain plant substances, the polyphenols. These are found, for example, in coffee, tea and chocolate, but also in wine.
How does protection come about?
According to the research team, zinc activates the so-called hydroquinone group in polyphenols. When zinc and hydroquinone are combined, an enzyme is formed that has an antioxidant effect on the one hand and protects the body from the degradation processes caused by oxidation on the other. The harmful superoxides are thus metabolized before they damage the organism. In this way oxidative stress can be reduced or even avoided.
What are the dangers of superoxides?
The research team reports that superoxides, as a by-product of human cellular respiration, are at least partly responsible for the human aging process. In addition, superoxides are suspected of favouring numerous diseases such as inflammation, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Zinc as a food additive for coffee, tea and chocolate?
According to researchers, other metals such as manganese, iron, copper or nickel also have an antioxidant effect. In contrast to zinc, these metals can even increase oxidative stress if you take too much of them. Zinc, on the other hand, is much less toxic. It could be provided new medicines or food with zinc additives, without substantial side effects are to be expected. This can promote the health of the consumers. “It is quite possible that in the future wine, coffee, tea or chocolate with zinc additive are available , summarizes Ivana Ivanović-Burmazović in a press release.
Beware of alcohol and zinc
Even though wine also contains hydroquinone and therefore has an antioxidant effect in combination with zinc, the professor emphasises that alcohol cannot be regarded as beneficial to health. “Each alcohol content would destroy the positive effects of this combination , stresses the Expertin. (vb)