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Apple peel prevents muscle wasting in elderly

Apple peel prevents muscle wasting in elderly

The saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' has been used for more than a hundred years. But new research has found that apples, in particular their peel, can help keep muscle wasting at bay in older people. This is because a chemical found in the peel, called ursolic acid, can help reduce the ageing process of muscles in elderly people in just two months.

Scientists from the University of Iowa told the Journal of Biological Chemistry that they believe apples and green tomatoes have the same natural chemical properties and they hope that this could lead to new therapies for pensioners so they can keep active for longer.

A protein called ATF4 is to blame for causing muscle wasting in old age as it changes the formation of genes, starving muscles of the proteins they need to remain strong. This leads to loss of mass and strength.

However, ursolic acid from apples and tomatidine from green tomatoes are believed to be able to reduce ATF4's activity.

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

Initial tests on older mice revealed that ursolic acid and tomatidine 'dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy'. They also increased muscle mass by ten per cent and 'muscle quality' by 30 per cent after two months.

"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 ageing," Professor Adams added. "By reducing ATF4 activity, ursolic acid and tomatidine allow skeletal muscle to recover from effects of ageing."

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