Aging: Apple Skin and Green Tomatoes May Ward Off Muscle Loss

First Posted: Sep 08, 2015 12:34 PM EDT

Keeping our muscles strong becomes harder as we age. This is because as we grow older, we lose strength and muscle mass. Now, scientists are taking a closer look at how to keep our muscles as strong as they were when they were young.

"Many of us know from our own experiences that muscle weakness and atrophy are big problems as we become older," said Christopher Adams, the senior study author, in a news release. "These problems have a major impact on our quality of life and health."

In previous studies, researchers identified ursolic acid, which can be found in apple peel, and tormatidine, which comes from green tomatoes, as small molecules that can prevent acute muscle wasting caused by starvation and inactivity. In this latest study, though, researchers focused on these compounds a bit more closely.

The scientists found that ursolic acid and tomatidine dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy in mice. Elderly mice with age-related muscle weakness and atrophy were fed diets lacking or containing either .27 percent ursolic acid or .05 percent tomatidine for two months. Both the compounds increased muscle mass by 10 percent, and also increased muscle quality.

"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," said Christopher Adams, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We also thought we might be able to use ursolic acid and tomatidine as tools to find a root cause of muscle weakness and atrophy during aging."

The findings are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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