in noni fruit offer protective effects against DNA damage
in white blood cells. Morinda’s Tahitian Noni Juice was
compared with placebo in the clinical trials.
Morinda citrifolia, commonly known as noni, is a
tropical tree that grows on the islands of the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Central America, the Indian subcontinent and in the Caribbean. The fruit and leaves
have a history of use both as food and for the promotion
of health. With a well-established safety profile, noni
has received Novel Food approval in Europe.
“In looking for other sources of iridoids, we found
they’re not very common to fruits,” noted Mr. West, add-
ing that Cornelian cherries found in Asia (Cornus offi-
cinalis) and Europe (Cornus mas) also contain iridoids.
“We reviewed some research done in Japan on diabetic
rats where iridoids from the Cornelian cherries lowered
blood sugar levels and also lowered AGE levels in the
kidneys of these animals.”
Cranberries, blueberries (Vaccinium) and olive leaf
(Olea europaea) offer additional sources of iridoids,
though in smaller concentrations than noni. Formulated
to feature these iridoid sources, TrüAge Max, developed
by Morinda, is a dietary supplement shown to lower
AGE levels. In a recent study, diabetic participants who
consumed 60 mL per day lowered AGEs by up to 24%,
according to the company.
Researchers have uncovered multiple ways in which
TrüAge Max helps control AGEs, including preventing the
formation of AGEs by helping to metabolize protein and fat
before they can bind and become AGEs, stabilizing blood
sugar levels and reducing levels of free radicals in the body.
A clinical study among adults found the iridoids in TrüAge
Max reduced free radicals in participants by 19%.
AGEs & Free Radicals
While AGEs and free radicals have “similar personal-
ity attributes,” according to Mr. West, they are distinct.
“They are both reactive,” he noted. “They like to react
with other things, and they do that very rapidly. A free
radical is an issue of an unpaired electron that’s looking
for a partner. One of the properties of AGEs involves di-
carbonyls—these bonds that are highly reactive. So the
mechanism of action is different.”
The formation of free radicals is much more rapid
than AGEs that develop from elevated sugars, he added.
“If you started at the beginning of the reaction with
protein and sugar binding, then it goes through a series
of chemical reactions, over weeks to months time, to ac-
tually form the advanced glycation end-product at the
very end. In the middle is something called an amadori
product. An example is Hemoglobin A1C or glycosylated
hemoglobin, that people get measured to see if they have
diabetes. The snapshot you get from that is 3 months
previous, showing how well you’ve controlled sugar.”
A “vicious cycle” between oxidative stress and AGEs
can develop. “Things that cause oxidative stress in the
body actually speed up reaction rates that form AGEs,”
Mr. West continued. “So one contributes to the other.
There is some back and forth. Oxidative stress can in-
crease AGE levels faster and then those elevated levels
also interact with receptors on the cells called RAGE
(receptor for AGE) that causes a cell response that in-
creases oxidative stress.”
Essentially, free radicals destroy cells, noted Ms.
Baird. “The good news is that many foods, especially
fruits and vegetables, contain naturally occurring com-
pounds—plant nutrients that act as antioxidants, which
destroy free radicals. We know that free radicals contrib-
ute to inflammation, and inflammation contributes to ag-
ing. It also contributes to a number of different diseases,
like heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancer.”
“I truly believe that beauty starts from the inside
out,” she added. Still, the AGE Foundation recently con-
ducted a survey that showed 52% of respondents pay
attention to their external physical appearance rather
than the internal health of their organs (48%).
Simple lifestyle changes like drinking more fluids, consuming more fiber (soluble and insoluble) and eating more
fruits and vegetables can make a significant difference.
Moving Science Forward
While the body naturally rids itself of AGEs, this ability
decreases with age. “During the AGE forming process
there is a possibility of keeping that somewhat in check,
but that declines as we get older,” said Mr. West. “That
accumulation can go up if you’re a smoker and if you’re
Focused on future research, Mr. West recently pre-
sented preliminary data from a human clinical trial on
skin autofluorescence, a non-invasive AGE marker. He
said the intention is to add more people to that trial, and
to conduct additional clinicals.
Mr. West and his colleagues are also interested in
further analyzing the mechanism of action for iridoids.
“What is it about iridoids that actually slows down or
prevents AGE formation?” Currently, iridoids may act as
dicarbonyl scavengers, preventing AGE formation; other
enzymatic processes may also be at play. n