Drinking green tea and consuming a cocoa-rich diet may reduce the age-related neuromuscular changes that accompany sarcopenia — the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, a rats study has found. The study, published in the journal Aging, examined the effect of two flavonoid-rich diets containing green tea extract (GTE) catechins or cocoa flavanols on age-associated regressive changes in the neuromuscular system of C57BL/6J mice.
“Sarcopenia is thought to be the main factor in the decline in physical performance in the elderly,” said Jordi Caldero of the Universitat de Lleida in Spain. Sarcopenia is one of the main causes of muscle loss. On average, it is estimated that 5–13 percent of elderly people aged 60–70 years are affected by sarcopenia. For those 80 or older, that number rises to 11-50 percent. “The compromised 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, morbidity and mortality,” Caldero said.
In addition to skeletal muscle wasting, sarcopenia consists of morphological and molecular changes in distinct components of the neuromuscular system, including the motoneurons and neuromuscular junctions of the spinal cord.