A team of researchers that had previously found a substance in apple peel which works as a muscle-building agent has recently also discovered that another substance called tomatidine, found in green tomatoes can be even more powerful when it comes to building muscle and preventing muscle wasting, otherwise known as muscle atrophy. It is primarily caused by aging and a combination of injuries or diseases, like heart disease, cancer, orthopedic injuries etc.
Muscle atrophy also makes people generally weak and feeling tired, it decreases physical performance and the overall quality of life and increases the chances of people falling and fracturing their bones. This condition has an impact on more than 40 million Americans per year, plus 25 million people aged over 60 and can be one of the primary causes for people entering rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.
And it doesn’t only cause problems for the patients themselves, but also for their families and the overall health care system. However, there is still a lack of general effective treatment or prevention strategy. Working out will most certainly help in some way, but it has been proven to be insufficient and not possible for a big number of people who have been injured or aren’t healthy enough to do it.
As strange as it may sound, green tomatoes can be a powerful tool in your muscle building arsenal.
More muscle mass, less fat
In another study, scientists were looking for a small molecule substance than can be used as a treatment for muscle wasting. It was found that tomatidine makes changes in the way genes are expressed that are the exact opposite to those changes that are happening in the muscle cells in people who suffer from muscle wasting. After discovering tomatidine’s properties, it was tested on skeletal muscle to see its effects. It was found that it stimulates the growth of cultured muscle cells.
Tomatidine was then tested on mice by adding it into their diet. It was found that healthy mice who consumed tomatidine experienced greater muscle growth, muscle strength and developed greater endurance when they were put under strenuous physical activity. And what’s most important, they discovered that it effectively treated and prevented muscle wasting.
And what’s even more astounding, even though the mice who consumed tomatidine had bigger muscles, the average body weight didn’t change because they lost a big amount of fat, which suggests that tomatidine can also have obesity treating properties.
Making healthy foods
Another very attractive property of tomatidine is that it is naturally found in tomatoes. It is created when alpha-tomatine, found in the tomato plant and in green tomatoes especially, is digested in the intestines. Green tomatoes can be safe when eaten in moderation. But it is still unknown how many green tomatoes one needs to eat to get the same tomatidine dose that was given to mice. And it is still unknown if that dose is safe for humans, or it will have a similar effect in humans as it has in mice.
Scientists have also been using the same research strategy in discovering ursolic acid, a substance found in apple peels, which promotes muscle tissue growth.
Tomatidine has been shown to be tremendously more powerful than ursolic acid and it seems that it has a different manner of functioning. It is widely believed in the scientific community that several natural substances found in common foods, like ursolic acid and tomatidine may, in the near future, be put together in food supplements or incorporated into people’s diets to improve their general health.
- M. C. Dyle, S. M. Ebert, D. P. Cook, S. D. Kunkel, D. K. Fox, K. S. Bongers, S. A. Bullard, J. M. Dierdorff, C. M. Adams. Systems-Based Discovery of Tomatidine as a Natural Small Molecule Inhibitor of Skeletal Muscle Atrophy. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2014; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M114.556241