Pomegranate, berries and nuts, these are the foods that nourish our muscles, prevent aging processes that can lead to the loss of muscle function and make the muscles more resistant to fatigue. This emerges from a recent scientific research published in the JAMA Network Open journal thanks to the work of an American team from the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle (Liu et al, JAMA Netw Open, 2022).
The processes that cause muscles to lose functionality
Mitochondria are organelles present within cells with the vital task of supplying the cells of our body with energy. Like everything, mitochondria also lose their functionality over time. However, we can rely on self-healing processes. In particular, through mitophagy our body is able to recognize mitochondria that are no longer functioning, degrade them and reduce them to elementary units that can then be reused by the cells. However, this mechanism gets stuck over the years and when oxidative stress is in excess. As a consequence, the mitochondria that are no longer working properly accumulate and, among the various consequences, the muscles stop working at their best, suffering even more from fatigue. Previous studies performed in the laboratory and on animals had already shown that a substance, urolithin A, stimulates mitophagy, protecting cells and muscles. Urolithin A is produced by our intestinal microbiota starting from the polyphenols contained in the pomegranate, berries and walnuts. Alternatively, there are also urolithin A supplements.
Healthy and strong muscles thanks to urolithin A, the study
To understand the action of urolithin A on muscle function in humans, American scientists recruited 66 volunteers, all adults over 65. The study participants were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to take a supplement containing 1000 mg urolithin A daily for 4 months. The second group was used as a control. At the end of the study, those who had taken the supplement showed greater muscle resistance to fatigue. Not only that, based on blood tests, it also emerged that the urolithin A supplement had reduced the presence of some substances involved in the loss of functionality of the mitochondria and considered real indicators of any dysfunction of these important organelles. Therefore, urolithin A has made it possible to improve the health of mitochondria and muscles already after a few months of intake.
Urolithin A, supplements and nutrition
Urolithin A is found in the form of a supplement in chemist's shops and online, usually in the form of powder. The supplement is considered safe and well tolerated but always ask your doctor for advice before starting any treatment to assess your personal situation. Alternatively, urolithin A is produced by our body when we eat certain foods, such as nuts, berries and pomegranate. In the case of the pomegranate, its juice, being obtained from the whole fruit, is the product with the highest content of ellagitannins, the antioxidants used by our microbiota to produce urolithin A.