Researchers found that supplementing the diet with the sea creature Ascidiacea, also known as ascidia, reversed some of the major signs of aging in animal models. While more research is needed to verify the effects in humans, as this study was conducted with mice, the findings are very promising.
Sea squirts can be eaten raw and can be found in both Korean and Japanese recipes. These aquatic critters contain acetylated phospholipids that are essential to human processes, it our bodies naturally, especially in the heart, brain and immune cells, but the amount in the body decreases as we age. This loss is also a feature of various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Researchers evaluated the effects of adding plasmalogens to the food of aged mice to see if increasing plasmalogen levels could prevent the effects of aging. They found that the supplements had a significant effect on learning ability and physical symptoms in the mice. The study suggests that acetylated phospholipids may not just stop cognitive decline, but may reverse cognitive impairment in the aging brain. In addition, older mice fed with acetal phospholipids grew new black hair that was thicker and shinier than older mice not fed this supplement.
The effects of acetylated phospholipid supplementation on learning and memory were assessed by training mice to navigate the Morris water maze, which consists of a pool of water and a platform that serves as a resting place. Mice usually do not like to swim, so after five days of training, they remembered the location of the platform and swam directly to it as soon as they entered the pool. On the other hand, older mice took longer to find the platform after the same amount of training.
Surprisingly, when fed acetylated phospholipids, older mice behaved more like younger mice and found a plateau faster than older mice controls that did not receive the supplement. To find the reason for the improved performance of the fed mice, the researchers took a closer look at the changes that occur within the brain. They found that mice fed acetylated phospholipid supplements gained elevated numbers and quality of synapses, the connections between neurons, compared to older mice that did not receive the supplements.