This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
If you could eat something that would restore some of the muscle strength you had when you were younger, would you be interested? A new study finds compounds in two fruits can help reverse the muscle weakness associated with aging. The discovery is the latest in a growing body of evidence that shows remedies to health problems lie in the kitchen rather than in the medicine cabinet.
Until the current research, the cause of age-related muscle wasting had been unknown. Now, scientists at the University of Iowa have found the condition is mediated through a substance called ATF4, as it reduces the synthesis of muscle protein needed for strength. They also identified ursolic acid in apple peel and tomatidine from green tomatoes as effective agents for reducing the harmful action of ATF4 in aged muscles.
Dr. Christopher Adams and his team earlier determined the two compounds can prevent muscle wasting caused by inactivity and starvation. This finding set the stage to ascertain if the botanical extracts could also halt the muscle decline of aging.
Elderly mice with age-related muscle wasting were fed diets containing either ursolic acid or tomatidine for two months. The control group of mice was fed diets lacking these compounds. Researchers found both botanical extracts boosted muscle mass by 10 percent as well as increased muscle strength by 30 percent. Amazingly, these effects were sufficient to restore the muscle quality of the elderly mice to the muscle quality of young adult mice.
“Many of us know from our own experiences that muscle weakness and atrophy are big problems as we become older,” said researcher Dr. Christopher Adams. “These problems have a major impact on our quality of life and health. Based on these results, ursolic acid and tomatidine appear to have a lot of potential as tools for dealing with muscle weakness and atrophy during aging.” The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.