London: Drinking green tea and a diet high in cocoa can reduce age-related neuromuscular changes that occur in sarcopenia – the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, a study found in mice.
Sarcopenia is one of the main reasons behind muscle loss. On average, 5-13 percent of older people aged 60-70 years have sarcopenia. For those over 80, the numbers rise to 11-50 percent.
“Sarcopenia is considered to be the main cause of physical decline in the elderly,” said Jordi Caldero of the Universitat de Lleida in Spain.
“The impairment of muscle function associated with sarcopenia negatively affects the quality of life of older adults and increases the risk of negative health consequences such as disability, fall-related injuries, morbidity and mortality,” added Caldero.
In addition to breaking down skeletal muscles, sarcopenia brings about morphological and molecular changes in various components of the neuromuscular system, including the spinal cord motor neurons and neuromuscular connections.
The study, published in the journal Aging, looked at the effects of two flavonoid-fortified diets containing either green tea extract (GTE) catechins or cocoa flavanols on age-related regressive changes in the neuromuscular system of C57BL / 6J mice.
Ingesting flavonoids from green tea or cocoa could significantly increase the survival rate of aged mice and prevent some regressive structural changes that occur with senescence in certain cellular components of the neuromuscular system.
Both diets clearly preserved the innervation and maturity of the neuromuscular connections, retarded the process of senescence of skeletal muscle and improved its regenerative capacity, as explained by the “more youthful cellular phenotype of myofibers, the apparent reduction in myofiber degeneration / regeneration cycles”.
In addition, GTE, but not cocoa, reduced age-related microgliosis and increased the proportion of neuroprotective microglial phenotypes.
“Our data suggest that certain plant flavonoids may be beneficial in nutritional management of age-related deterioration in the neuromuscular system,” the researchers said.