Getting older is an inevitable physiological process while all of us if not most, want to hold on to youthfulness for as long as possible. This is a scary topic as we understand that ageing is the major risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, glaucoma and neurodegenerative disorders1. While we are far from figuring out the complete biological basis of ageing, we can deduce the main causes of ageing include accumulated cellular damage caused by reactive molecules called free radicals and the shortening of telomeres, which are the structures located at the ends of chromosomes that play an important role in cellular division1. Among the numerous theories associated with ageing, the oxidative stress and free radical accumulation theories stand out the most. The antioxidant system deteriorates as a function of age, bringing about disruption of the delicate balance between radical oxygen species (ROS) production and elimination leading to oxidative cellular damage2.
Many people experience a drop in appetite as we get older, meeting our nutritional needs can become even more challenging. This is another reason many of us turn to supplements. Since ageing is predestined, we cannot defy the laws of nature, instead we can embrace it and look out for ways to age healthily. This is gaining traction in today’s world as there were 703 million persons aged 65 years or over in the world in 2019. The number of older persons is projected to double to 1.5 billion in 20503. Globally, the share of the population aged 65 years or over increased from 6 per cent in 1990 to 9 per cent in 20193. In this article, we will not discuss about anti-ageing, instead we will review on supplements that support healthy ageing.
Royal jelly is the creamy, milky secretion from the glands of worker honeybees. Being the food for young bees for the first 3 days of their lives, royal jelly continues to become the sole food for queen bees4. Despite the fact that bee queens live longer compared with worker bees, queens enjoy youthful and vigorous cellular functioning. This is attributed to the peroxidation-resistant cell membrane and the lower expression of oxidative stress genes of royal jelly4. Royal jelly is known to promote the lifespan and longevity of queen bees as it enhances overall health and fertility. This property is at least in part due to royalactin5.
The life-expanding effect of royal jelly originates from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can promote healthy ageing by improving glycemic status, lipid profiles, and oxidative stress—and hence can prevent the occurrence of various debilitating metabolic diseases that contribute to mortality6,7. A latest article published in 2019 demonstrated a positive effect on subjects’ cholesterol profile, satiety, negative mood and inflammation8. The experimental group showed significant decrease in the total and LDL cholesterol levels by 7.8% and 6.2% respectively after 8 weeks of 666mg of lyophilised royal jelly8.
Grape seed extract contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC 95%) which possesses antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals. It was observed in a trial, following consecutive 12-week administration of grape seed extract 200mg and 400mg, a significant decrease in cholesterol LDL level compared to the basal level found at 12 weeks and 6 weeks respectively after the start of administration9. Many protein misfolding diseases, for example, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, are characterised by the accumulation of protein aggregates in an amyloid fibrillar form. Gallic acid from grape seed extract supports brain health by inhibiting fibril formation and delaying neurodegenerative diseases, by stabilizing to prevent its protein fibril aggregation10.
Ling Zhi has been viewed as an elixir since Chinese ancient times. Being known as an adaptogen, Ling Zhi activates the adjustment of assorted bodily responses to deal with assorted forms of stress, by manipulating the immune and stress response system11. It exerts life span elongation activities by inhibiting ROS production, lipid peroxidation, and advanced oxidation protein products12.
The common trait in royal jelly, grape seed and Ling Zhi that uphold longevity is the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in their bioactive ingredients. In addition to practising a healthy diet, sufficient exercise and most importantly reducing stress, taking supplements discussed in this article may help support the ageing process and promote a long, healthy life.
- McHugh D, Gil J. Senescence and ageing: Causes, consequences, and therapeutic avenues. J Cell Biol. 2018 Jan 2; 217(1): 65–77. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201708092.
- Harman D (1992). Free radical theory of ageing. Mutat Res, 275: 257-66.
- United Nations. World Population Ageing 2019 Highlights. https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WorldPopulationAgeing2019-Highlights.pdf. Accessed on 27/8/2022.
- Kunugi H, Ali AM. Royal jelly and its components promote healthy ageing and longevity: from animal models to humans. International Journal of Molecular Science. 2019; 20(4662):1-26.
- Cornara L, Biagi M, Xiao J, Burlando B. Therapeutic Properties of Bioactive Compounds from Different Honeybee Products. Front Pharmacol. 2017; 8: 412.
- Maleki V., Jafari-Vayghan H., Saleh-Ghadimi S., Adibian M., Kheirouri S., Alizadeh M. Effects of Royal jelly on metabolic variables in diabetes mellitus: A systematic review. Complement. Ther. Med. 2019; 43: 20–27. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.12.022.
- Pasupuleti V.R., Sammugam L., Ramesh N., Gan S.H. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. Oxid. Med. Cell Longev. 2017; 2017: 1259510. doi: 10.1155/2017/1259510.
- Petelin A, Kenig S, Kopinc R, Dezelak M, Bizjak MC, Praznikar ZJ. Effects of royal jelly administration on lipid profile, satiety, inflammation, and antioxidant capacity in asymptomatic overweight adults. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2019.
- Sano A, Uchida R, Saito M, Shioya N, Komori Y, Tho Y, Hashizume N. Beneficial effects of grape seed extract on malondialdehyde-modified LDL. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2007 Apr;53(2):174-82.
- Liu Y, Pukala TL, Musgrave IF, Williams DM, Dehle FC, Carver JA. Gallic acid is the major component of grape seed extract that inhibits amyloid fibril formation. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2013 Dec 1;23(23):6336-40.
- Liao LY, He YF, Li L, Meng H, Dong YM, Yi F, Xiao PG. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018; 13: 57. Published online 2018 Nov 16. doi: 10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9.
- Pan Y, Lin ZB. Anti-ageing Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) with Health and Fitness. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019; 1182:299-309. doi: 10.1007/978-981-32-9421-9_13.