To maintain muscle mass and preserve its functionality, a help comes from polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that we can introduce into the body with our diet. This is what emerges from a recent review published in the Molecules journal by a Japanese team (Nikawa et al, Molecules, 2021).
Muscle atrophy and loss of strength
Muscle atrophy is the loss of muscle mass and muscle strength, due to a reduction in protein synthesis and / or an increase in their degradation. At the base of this process there are oxidative stress, inflammations and dysfunctions at the cellular level triggered by various conditions such as aging, excessive inactivity, cardiovascular, pulmonary or renal diseases, diabetes, cellular degeneration, some medicines based on glucocorticoids, which are used against inflammations. Muscle atrophy can reduce the quality of life, making movements less simple and increasing the risk of falls. To counteract and reverse muscle atrophy, some foods rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants capable of counteracting the inflammatory and oxidative processes underlying this muscle deterioration, help.
The role of antioxidants
The review was able to highlight that the antioxidants analyzed can counteract the degradation of proteins and, in some cases, even increase their synthesis. But let's see better in more detail.
Phenols against muscle atrophy
The phenols contained in pomegranates, apples, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, cramberries and walnuts, are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antitumor and antimicrobial. These compounds have been shown to stimulate muscle growth by improving cellular function in the mitochondria. At the same time, phenols prevent the deterioration of muscle mass by counteracting free radical damage and inflammation.
The role of flavonoids
Flavonoids, which are found in practically all fruit and vegetables, counteract obesity, cellular degeneration, diabetes, heart and kidney disease. Flavonoids are able to counteract muscle atrophy through various mechanisms of action. In particular, they help keep the muscle healthy by ensuring proper blood circulation, support the work of cells at the level of the mitochondria, attenuate the degradation of proteins and at the same time activate their synthesis, protect the muscle from necrosis processes and reverse the aging processes that can reduce the size of muscle fibers.
Don't forget green tea
Epigallocatechin gallate, the most powerful active ingredient in green tea, is able to reverse the process of muscle loss triggered by aging.
The benefits of turmeric
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, reduces muscle atrophy caused by inflammation and an excessively sedentary lifestyle.
And finally the grapes!
And don't forget the resveratrol of black grapes! In fact, this precious antioxidant counteracts the loss of muscle mass and is especially useful in case of muscle atrophy induced by diabetes. And if resveratrol is taken together with beta carotene, found for example in carrots, and astaxanthin, contained in krill, it is able to promote protein synthesis and thus stimulate the renewal and growth of muscle mass. Not only that, resveratrol, taken within an active lifestyle that includes moderate physical activity, is able to prevent sarcopenia that can occur with advancing age.