London: A study in mice found that drinking green tea and a diet rich in cocoa may reduce the age-related neuromuscular changes that occur with sarcopenia — the gradual loss of skeletal muscle mass and function.
Baggage is one of the main causes of muscle mass loss. On average, it is estimated that 5-13 percent of older adults between the ages of 60 and 70 have sarcopenia. The numbers increase to 11-50 percent for those 80 years of age or older.
“Sarcopenia is the main causative factor for decreased physical performance in the elderly,” said Jordi Caldero of the University of Lleida in Spain.
“The impairment of muscle function associated with sarcopenia has a negative impact on the quality of life of older adults and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes including disability, fall-related injuries, illness and death,” Caldero added.
Besides musculoskeletal wasting, sarcopenia entails morphological and molecular changes in distinct components of the neuromuscular system, including spinal cord motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions.
The study, published in the journal Aging, examined the effect of two flavonoid-rich diets containing either green tea extract (GTE) or cocoa flavanols on age-related regressive changes in the neuromuscular system of C57BL/6J mice.
Dietary intake of flavonoids from green tea or cocoa was able to significantly increase the survival rate of aged mice and prevent some of the regressive structural changes that occur with aging in the distinct cellular components of the neuromuscular system.
Both systems clearly maintain the innervation and maturation of neuromuscular junctions, delay the aging process of skeletal muscle, and enhance their regenerative capacity, as inferred from the “younger cellular phenotype of muscle fibers, and the apparent reduction in muscle fiber degeneration/renewal cycles,” the researchers explained.
Furthermore, GTE, but not cocoa, reduced aging-associated microgliosis and increased the proportion of neuroglial phenotypes.
“Our data suggest that certain plant flavonoids may be useful in the dietary management of age-related decline in the neuromuscular system,” the researchers said.