Age brings lots of things with it, but not all of them are as welcome as the wisdom that comes with a long life. Aging is associated with muscle weakness and loss. To some degree, this is inevitable. However, the more muscle you lose and the more muscle strength you lose, the greater risk you are at for injury or bone breaks.
Protecting the muscles and bones of aging adults is one of the keys to improving the quality of life for elderly adults and minimizing medical expenses. New research in this area indicates that a simple change in diet may have a positive impact on muscle loss and muscle strength.
Age-Related Muscle Loss
Age-related muscle loss is known as sarcopenia. Generally, the weaker you are prior to getting sarcopenia, the more severely it affects you. While strength training and working out may help you prevent muscle loss, that advice is not helpful once you have already suffered muscle loss.
Researchers have spent many years trying to find a way to restore muscle function and strength to aging adults. A recent study that isolated a protein found in tomatoes appears to be the key.
For many years, experts have believed that the only way to stop muscle loss is to prevent it. However, this study indicates that it may actually be possible to cure muscle loss. Ursolic acid and tomatidine are the two chemicals that were isolated in this study.
In both cases, the chemicals stopped muscle loss caused by inactivity and starvation. Researchers divided mice into two groups, and each group received either tomatidine or ursolic acid. Both groups experienced an increase in muscle mass and muscle strength.
This data suggests that these chemicals can return muscles to the same level as a young adult’s.
Further research indicates that these chemicals stop muscle loss by turning off the effects of the protein ATF4 in muscles. ATF4 contributes to muscle weakness caused by aging, so making muscles unresponsive to this protein can reverse muscle weakness.
How This Affects Your Diet
The findings of this research are already being translated into different projects and programs to help reverse age-related muscle loss. The chemicals tested are found naturally in tomatoes, green tomatoes, and apples. Simply increasing your intake of these foods can help you reduce your risk of sarcopenia.
Furthermore, additional research is going on to find out what other foods contain these chemicals in high amounts. As research explores the possibilities of this finding, you may find that more and more muscle-building super foods are hitting the market.
Of course, it is also important to maintain your muscle mass and strength through exercise. While cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart, strength training is what protects you from the loss of muscle strength and mass.
This research could change the lives of millions of people. An increase in muscle strength and mass for older adults could mean fewer injuries, less time spent in emergency care, and lower medical costs.