Does an Apple a Day Keep Muscle Loss at Bay?

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As people age, they lose muscle mass, which can cause them to trip, slip and fall—even if they exercise. So far, no medication can stop it. But now a new study funded by the University of Iowa Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association points to apples as a possible way to fight wasting muscles.

Yet here's the rub: According to other research, sedentary seniors who eat more become overweight, which can lead to different health problems.

In mice studies reported in myhealthnewsdaily.com, University of Iowa endocrinologist Christopher Adams found that a compound found in apple peels called ursolic acid kept muscles from deteriorating, and even boosted new muscle development. Would it work the same way in humans? And if so, how many apples would a person have to eat? Dr. Adams doesn't yet know, but told AgingCare that it would be "terrific" if seniors could get enough of the compound simply by munching on more of the fruit.

But before you stock up on Galas and MacIntoshes, consider this: Research by Mayo Clinic endocrinologist K.S. Nair has shown that muscle wasting in seniors causes them to get fatter as they age, even if they eat the same amount of food as they did when they were younger and don't exercise enough. That puts them at risk for heart disease. They will also have a higher susceptibility to glucose intolerance, which could lead to Type II diabetes.

So for now, moderation is the watchword. While apples are thought to reduce "bad" cholesterol, and are a source of antioxidants that may reduce the occurrence of diseases like strokes and certain cancers, eating too much of the sugary, starchy fruit adds calories, which can lead to obesity, heart disease and Type II diabetes. Perhaps Mom's advice was right: "An apple a day…"

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