Getting old with chocolate, coffee and tea with zinc? Scientists at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg have discovered a new protection against oxidative stress, which is related to the aging process and many diseases.
Have researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) discovered a miracle cure for the aging process? A press release from the university now provides information: According to aging and low life expectancy would be caused, inter alia, by oxidative stress. A team of researchers from the Department of Bioinorganic Chemistry has now discovered, together with scientists from the USA, that zinc can activate an organic molecule and thus form a protection against oxidative stress. The results were published in Nature Chemistrubl.
Zinc in wine and chocolate helps against stress
According to researchers, zinc is one of the trace elements we need to stay healthy. However, the zinc that FAO researchers have discovered in cooperation with Auburn University in Alabama has shown that zinc, together with a component of food such as wine, coffee, tea and chocolate, provides protection against the superoxide responsible for oxidative stress.
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This component is a hydroquinone group found in polyphenols – the phytochemicals responsible for odor and taste. Zinc activates the hydroquinone groups to provide natural protection against superoxide, an intermediate of human cellular respiration that damages the body's own biomolecules, such as proteins or fats, as well as the genome. It is therefore associated with the aging process and a variety of diseases such as inflammation, cancer or neurodegenerative diseases.
Novel metal complex against superoxide
Hydroquinone alone is unable to break down superoxide. However, when zinc and hydroquinone combine to form a metal complex that mimics a superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme. Such an enzyme protects the body from the decomposition processes that are caused by the oxidation. It therefore has an antioxidant effect. In this way, the superoxide can be metabolized and damage to the organism can be prevented: oxidative stress is avoided.
Zinc Chocolate, Zinc Coffee and Co.
Unique to these results is that the function of this enzyme is modeled without the use of redox-active transition metals such as manganese, iron, copper or nickel. Although the metals could also have an antioxidant effect, this effect is quickly reversed: in the event of an overdose, they even promote oxidative stress. Zinc is far less toxic than the transition metals mentioned above, allowing for new drugs or supplements with fewer side effects.
Also imaginable are foods that naturally contain hydroquinone and that have zinc added to promote consumer health. "It is quite possible that there will eventually be zinc-plated wine, coffee, tea or chocolate, but any alcohol content will ruin the positive effects of this combination," says researcher Ivana Ivanovic-Burmazovic.