One of the greatest truths in life is that age takes a toll on muscle strength. However, there are some ways to slow down this process, and even rejuvenate the muscle strength of elderly people. According to the University of Iowa researchers, tomatoes and apples contain the secret of prolonging muscle strength in old age. Their ability to rejuvenate older muscles is a result of the work of compounds capable of inhibiting the protein that contributes to muscle aging.
The results of their study may pave a way for creating new supplements and drugs that could be used for treating weak muscles, and enabling their longevity.
“Many of us know from our own experiences that muscle weakness and atrophy are big problems as we become older. These problems have a major impact on our quality of life and health,” explains Dr Christopher Adams, one of the authors of this study. The aging process leads to an inevitable decline of muscle mass, which results in weakness and loss of stamina in elderly people. This creates a sort of a vicious cycle, because physical activity is crucial for maintaining our muscles strong.
Apples and tomatoes, however, may hold the key for breaking up this cycle. According to the team lead by Dr. Adams, apple peels contain ursolic acid, while the skin of green tomatoes contain tomatidine compounds.
Both of them are effective inhibitors of the protein ATF4, which is considered to be the cause of muscle atrophy by changing the muscle genes’ formation, resembling the one seen in elderly people. In their opinion, inhibiting the work of this protein may stop age-related muscle atrophy in its roots.
The findings of the study are based on following the effects of these fruit compounds on muscle atrophy in elderly mice. The mice were subjected to a two month diet with high concentration of ursolic acid and/or tomatidine.
Upon measuring the muscle mass at the end of the two month trial period, the results revealed that all mice subjected to the diet containing both compounds have recorded a 10 % increase in muscle mass with 30% increase of muscle strength. Interestingly enough, this is almost equal to the growth experienced by young mice. All things considered, the results conclusively suggest that while ATF4 is responsible for muscle aging, by inhibiting it we can stop this process.
Muscles tend to grow faster when we are younger. According to some data, they increase size and strength until we reach out thirties. After that age, we can expect to experience 2 to 5 percent loss of muscle mass each 10 years. This process is fairly stable until we reach 75, when the muscle atrophy accelerates.
The promising results of the study, the research into the effectiveness of ursolic acid and tomatidine compounds is to continue with human trials, ultimately resulting into new supplements for prolonging muscle growth.