In the study -- published in the journal Nutrition -- the scientists randomly divided groups of both non-prematurely aging mice (NPAM) and prematurely aging mice (PAM) into control and experimental groups. The experimental groups' diets were supplemented with either 5 or 20 percent antioxidant-enriched biscuits and when compared to the control groups 15 weeks later, leukocyte functions, antioxidant defenses, and lipid and DNA oxidative damage levels were markedly improved in the experiment group. The antioxidants were more effective in the supplemented PAM group than the supplemented NPAM group, and antioxidant supplements of 20 percent were more effective than those of 5 percent.
"In the present study, ingestion of a diet supplemented with two different doses, 5 percent and 20 percent, of biscuits enriched with nutritional amounts of several antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and selenium improved the investigated immune functions in non-prematurely ageing mice and especially in prematurely aging mice," wrote lead author Carmen Alvarado.
These results could have considerable bearing on humans because the antioxidant/oxidant level in the body strongly influences the function of white blood cells -- the body's primary defense against disease and infections -- and aging increases what is known as oxidative stress. This means, as the human body ages, it loses its ability to fight infections, which results in an increased risk for infectious and degenerative disease and a subsequently decreased lifespan. This is why, the report concludes, maintaining antioxidant levels is important.
According to the authors, these biscuits -- which are commercially available -- contain antioxidants that have been proven effective in enhancing the immune system function of both human and animal study participants in the past.
"Because the immune function is a marker of health and several of the immune parameters studied are predictors of longevity," Alvarado concluded, "our data strongly indicate, on the one hand, the importance of maintaining a proper regulation of redox homeostasis in immune cells to preserve their functions and, on the other hand, that the biscuits enriched with nutritional doses of several antioxidants used in the present work appear to be a functional food that allows improvement of leukocyte function through restoration of the redox balance of these cells."
"The bottom line," added Mike Adams, a holistic nutritionist and author of The Seven Laws of Nutrition, "is that natural, plant-based antioxidants are good for your health and immune function."