According to a mouse study, drinking green tea and eating a cocoa-rich diet can help prevent age-related neuromuscular changes that occur with sarcopenia, or the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function.

One of the most common causes of muscle mass loss is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia affects 5-13 percent of elderly persons aged 60-70 years on average. For people aged 80 and up, the percentage rises to 11-50 percent.

“Sarcopenia is thought to be the primary cause of physical performance decrease in the elderly,” said Jordi Caldero of Spain’s Universitat de Lleida.

“The impaired muscle performance associated with sarcopenia has a severe influence on older persons’ life quality and raises the likelihood of unfavourable health outcomes such as disability, fall-related accidents, morbidity, and mortality,” Caldero stated.

Sarcopenia involves morphological and molecular alterations in various components of the neuromuscular system, including spinal cord motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions, in addition to skeletal muscle atrophy.

The researchers looked at how two flavonoid-rich diets containing either green tea extract (GTE) catechins or cocoa flavanols affected age-related regressive alterations in the neuromuscular system of C57BL/6J mice.

Dietary flavonoids from green tea or cocoa were found to considerably boost the survival rate of elderly mice and to prevent several regressive structural changes in different cellular components of the neuromuscular system that occur with ageing.

The more “youthful cellular phenotype of myofibers, the apparent reduction of myofiber degeneration/regeneration cycles,” as inferred from the more “youthful cellular phenotype of myofibers, the apparent reduction of myofiber degeneration/regeneration cycles,” the researchers explained, both diets clearly preserved neuromuscular junctions’ innervation and maturity, delayed the senescence process of the skeletal muscle, and enhanced its regenerative capacity.

Furthermore, GTE reduced age-related microgliosis and increased the fraction of neuroprotective microglial phenotypes, but not cocoa.

“Our findings suggest that specific plant flavonoids may be useful in the dietary control of age-related neuromuscular system degeneration,” the researchers wrote.

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