Reversing Muscle Atrophy With Food: Eating Apples, Green Tomatoes May Increase Muscle Strength

As you all know muscles turn weaker with age; however a recently performed study has revealed a way howto restore an elderly person’s strength to that of a young adult. Namely, researchers from the University of Iowa have discovered a compound in tomatoes and apples that can turn off a protein responsible for aging muscles. This study was released in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which might lead to new line of muscle strengthening-supplements and drugs.

The co-author of this study, Dr. Christopher Adams, a professor of internal medicine at U-Iowa, says that muscle weakness and atrophy (loss of muscle mass as a result of natural aging process) come with age thus becoming a great issue concerning individual’s quality of life and health. When people age they experience muscle weakness and loss of stamina which causes less physical activity thus making further progress of muscle weakness.

Fruits are quite helpful in resolving this issue, namely Adams and his colleagues found out that the ursolic acid in apple peels and tomatidine compounds in the skin of green tomatoes prevent muscle atrophy by turning off protein ATF4. This protein changes the formation of genes typically seen in elderly persons, and researches believe by turning it off the cyclical process of age-related muscle atrophy can be stopped.

The research was performed on elderly mice who already suffered from atrophy. In a period of two months mice were subjected on a diet containing or not containingursolic acid or tomatidine. After two months when researchers measured the muscle mass of the mice who consumed both compounds, the muscle mass was increased by 10% and muscle strength by 30% which equals the muscle mass and strength of a young adult mouse. Most importantly, mice lacking protein ATF4 were resistant to the effects of aging.

WebMD states that muscles grow larger and stronger from the time of birth up to the age of thirty; people lose 3 to 5% of their muscle mass every 10 years after their thirtieth birthday and after the 75th birthday atrophy accelerates.

Researching is still needed regarding human clinical trials; however researchers plan implementation on humans that will lead to a new line of muscle strengthening supplements and drugs.


Adams CM, Ebert SM, Dyle MC, et al. Identification and Small Molecule Inhibition of an ATF4-dependent Pathway to Age-related Skeletal Muscle Weakness and Atrophy. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2015.


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