A new exploratory in vivo study sheds light on the potential mechanisms involved in polyphenol metabolism and muscle function. These new data provide novel insight on previous research into how pomegranate polyphenols potentially impact post-workout muscle recovery.
The new research conducted was on metabolites called urolithins, which are natural compounds that are produced in most people as the body digests polyphenols in foods such as pomegranate. Note, this particular in vivo study did not involve humans or pomegranate consumption.
Published in July’s issue of Nature Medicine, a top-tier peer-reviewed journal that aims to keep clinicians and scientists informed with the latest advances in biomedical research – the study looked at the effect of urolithins during aging and muscle function in two preclinical animal models.[i] It demonstrated how urolithins work at a basic cell level, suggesting they may help clear away damaged mitochondria that build up over time. Mitochondria are an important part of cells that convert food to energy. Maintaining more healthy versus dysfunctional mitochondria appeared to be the reason lifespan and muscle function improved in these exploratory models. This is an important addition to the body of research; however, additional human clinical trials are needed to better understand how urolithins may impact human health.
Preclinical pomegranate juice research presented at last year’s Experimental Biology scientific meeting complements this new urolithin data. Therefore, these new data further support the ongoing hypothesis that it is the urolithins that are the key molecules which mediate much of the health benefits we’ve observed thus far.
Small, human clinical trials on pomegranate juice have shown promising results for muscle recovery and strength that may be consistent with the way urolithins appear to work as shown in this new preclinical study. Two studies found that men who drank pomegranate juice maintained more of their post-exercise strength compared with a placebo group.[ii],[iii] In a 2011 study, a small set of athletic men drank two servings (about eight ounces per serving) of either pomegranate juice or placebo for about two weeks while following their normal diet and weight training routine. After week one, the men completed specific strength exercises at maximum capacity. They drank an additional serving of pomegranate juice immediately after exercising. The study found that the men who drank pomegranate juice maintained more of their post-exercise arm strength when compared to the placebo group. A similar trend was seen in the knee though it did not reach statistical significance.
In a second larger study, published in 2014, 45 men were randomized into three groups – two that drank pomegranate juice and a placebo group. On day four of the eight day trial, they completed a defined exercise regimen, and isometric muscle strength in the arm and leg was measured over the following four days. Throughout the post-exercise time period, arm and leg strength was significantly higher in the men drinking at least one daily serving of pomegranate juice compared to the placebo group. Although this research is promising, additional clinical research is needed to establish causation and the potential impact of pomegranate polyphenols on exercise.
POM Wonderful is committed to ongoing scientific research exploring the potential benefits of pomegranate juice in the areas of: sports performance, memory and cognition, gut health, and more. The company continues to engage leading experts to better understand and advance the scientific discourse on pomegranate polyphenols.
About POM Wonderful
With over 9,000 acres of orchards in Central California, POM Wonderful is the largest grower and producer of fresh pomegranates and pomegranate juice in the United States. POM Wonderful grows, handpicks and juices its own pomegranates. By managing the entire production process from tree to table, we guarantee that our fresh pomegranates, fresh arils and 100% pomegranate juice come from only one source – 100% California-grown POM Wonderful pomegranates.
[i] Ryu D, et al. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nature Medicine. 2016. Epub ahead of print doi: 10.1038/nm.4132.
[ii]Trombold JR, et al. The effect of pomegranate juice supplementation of strength and soreness after eccentric exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2011. Jul;25(7):1782-8.
[iii] Machin DR, et al. Effects of differing dosages of pomegranate juice supplementation after eccentric exercise. Physiol J. 2014. AID:271959.
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