The outcome of a randomized controlled trial on the effects of hydrogen-rich water (HRW) generated by the inventor of AlkaWay’s hydrogen tablets has just been published, showing promising results in older adults aged 70 years and over.
The study was carried out by investigators at the Universities of Novi Sad and Belgrade in Serbia and has been published in the journal Experimental Gerontology.
Let’s see the details!
Our world is getting older. Can molecular hydrogen help?
In 2016, approximately 50 million U.S. adults were aged 65 years or older, representing 15% of the population. That number is expected to reach 71 million by 2030, and 98 million by 2060, at which time older adults will make up nearly 25% of the population. In this context, any nutraceutical that can improve metabolism, DNA stability, cognitive function, and overall quality of life might extend healthspan. Hydrogen-rich water (HRW) is known to reduce inflammatory responses, improve cardiovascular health, and metabolism. Therefore, the hypothesis of this recently published study was to test the effects of drinking HRW on quantitative markers of aging in elderly individuals.
Trial design and experimental intervention using Molecular Hydrogen
This study was a randomized-controlled trial (RCT). The randomized control trial (RCT) is a trial in which subjects are randomly assigned to one of two groups: one (the experimental group) receiving the intervention that is being tested (in this case, HRW), and the other (the comparison group or control) receiving an alternative (conventional) treatment (in this case, a placebo tablet added to tap water, which released CO2 bubbles and delivered the same amount of magnesium as the hydrogen tablet). The two groups are then followed up to see if there are any differences between them in the outcome. The results and subsequent analysis of the trial are used to assess the effectiveness of the intervention, which is the extent to which a treatment, procedure, or service does patients more good than harm. Since the two groups are chosen randomly from the eligible population, RCTs are the most stringent way to determine whether what is being achieved is a result of the intervention and not anything else.
Forty older adults (20 women and 20 men) participated in the study. The inclusion criteria of this trial were participants aged 70 years old or above (with at least 20% of participants aged over 80 years), body mass index in the normal or overweight range, no current acute disorders or major chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, stroke, psychiatric diseases), able to read and understand the written consent form, willing to take blood tests and other measurements, and consume assigned intervention. The exclusion criteria included a history of dietary supplement use during the four weeks prior to the study. All participants were subjected to a pre-participation general health screening to identify potentially eligible participants.
All participants were randomly allocated in a study group, receiving either high concentration HRW (15 ppm of hydrogen in 250ml of water, twice a day, corresponding to a total of 7.5mg of H2) or control drink (0 ppm of hydrogen) for six months. HRW was produced by dissolving a tablet of Rejuvenation (HRW Natural Health Products Inc., Drink HRW™, similar to Alkaway’s Hydrogen Tablets) into a cup of tap water (250 mL). The participants were asked to take HRW or the placebo drink two times a day in the morning and the evening on an empty stomach. Both drinks were similar in appearance, texture, and sensory characteristics and normalized for total magnesium amount. Importantly, the participants were asked not to use using any other dietary supplements and maintain their usual lifestyle (including diet and physical activity) during the study.
Results of the study of molecular hydrogen
The biomarkers assessed at baseline and 6-month follow up were molecular markers in the blood (DNA and chromosomes, nutrient sensing, protein, and lipid metabolism, oxidative stress and mitochondria, cell senescence, inflammation), brain metabolism, cognitive functioning, physical function, body composition, resting blood pressure, facial skin features, sleep outcomes, and health-related quality of life.
First, let’s look at what telomeres are and why we should care about their length. Telomeres are sections of DNA found at the ends of each of our chromosomes. They consist of the same sequence of six nucleotides repeated over and over again, and they have three very important functions.
First, they help to organize our chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell. Second, they protect the end of our chromosomes by forming a cap (think about the plastic tip on shoelaces), and finally, they control chromosome replication during cell division.
Every time a cell divides, telomeres shorten, and when they become too short, the chromosomes can no longer be replicated, triggering a process called apoptosis, which is programmed cell death.
The result of aging cells is an aging body, and longer telomeres are known to be associated with decreased incidence of diseases and better survival. And that’s why the results of this trial are particularly exciting.
After six months of molecular hydrogen intervention, telomere length increased, while it decreased with the placebo.
It is also important to note that this study was carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic, with lockdowns and social distancing measures in place, a situation that undoubtedly increased the baseline stress of the population. Since this type of stress usually has a dramatic effect on telomeres length, the results of the HRW study arm of the trial are even more striking. In addition, there was a trend in increasing DNA methylation, which is another marker of chromosomal stability. Therefore, HRW could be recognized as a dietary intervention that may lead to delayed onset of age-associated diseases and increased lifespan.
Molecular hydrogen affecting Oxidative status and inflammation
During normal metabolic processes, the cells produce molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules characterized by the presence of an unpaired electron. To make up for their uneven number of electrons, they react quickly with other substances. Being unstable and reactive, they can damage biologically relevant molecules such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. The most common free radicals are called Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS. However, cells also produce natural antioxidants that neutralize these free radicals.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the cells, meaning that the internal mechanism to fight the free radicals is off. This can be due to UV exposure, pollution, smoking, an unhealthy diet, or simply ageing.
After six months of drinking molecular hydrogen water, the researchers also noted a strong decreasing trend for the levels of serum malondialdehyde and the ferric reducing ability of plasma.
These are both markers of oxidative stress and are linked with inflammation. Moreover, molecular hydrogen water was superior to control water in increasing serum magnesium levels, despite both the hydrogen tablet and placebo tablet having the equivalent amount of magnesium, and magnesium is an essential mineral for many processes, including energy production, muscle function, nerve function, and bone structure.
Brain function and Molecular hydrogen
Ageing is associated with a decrease in cognitive function. In this study, HRW significantly impacted brain metabolism, in particular frontal grey matter. Drinking HRW regularly for six months increased brain choline and NAA levels in the left frontal grey matter, brain creatinine at the right parietal white matter, and brain NAA at the right parietal mesial grey matter. Choline is needed to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays an important role in regulating memory, mood, and intelligence, while N-Acetylaspartic acid, or N-acetylaspartate (NAA), is a derivative of aspartic acid essential for brain metabolism and energy expenditure.
These results suggest that HRW can improve brain viability and function by targeting specific brain regions.
What else you can do to stay young?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines healthy aging as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.”
Functional ability refers to having the capabilities that enable a person to meet their basic needs, learn, grow and make decisions, be mobile, build and maintain relationships, and contribute to society. Healthy aging is a synonym of active and proactive aging, and it emphasizes the need for action across multiple sectors to enable older people to remain a resource to their families, communities, and economies.
Taking your own health into your hands can be very empowering. But how can you be proactive when it comes to your health? Lifestyle and nutrition are the first places to start. Although none of us leads a stress-free life, trying to decrease stress levels in your daily life is a gift you can give to your body. Your mental and physical health will thank you. Nutrition is also one of your best allies when it comes to healthy aging. There are specific foods you can incorporate into your diet to keep your memory sharp, your immune system working, and your skin glowing even when the candles on your birthday cake increase! And, of course, results from this and other trials show that regularly drinking high-concentration HRW can significantly improve your metabolic and cardiovascular health, keeping you younger for longer.
Arianna Ferrini is a postdoctoral research fellow at University College London (UK) and a freelance scientific writer and illustrator. She holds a Ph.D. in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine from Imperial College London and an MSc in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology from the University of Florence (Italy). https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariannaferrini/