Cut calories now to protect muscle mass later

September 17th, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) Cutting down on calorie intake could help fix muscle mass loss later in life, according to a Florida University study based on mice.The researchers have discovered that a restricted calorie diet, started in early adulthood, seems to forestall a mitochondrial mishap that may contribute to muscle loss in aging adults, reports

In rats, scientists found pockets of excess iron in muscle cell mitochondria, the tiny power plants found in every cell. Excess iron affects the chemistry of these power plants, sparking formation of harmful free radicals that can lead a mitochondria straight to the emergency exit, said Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Florida University professor and co-author of the study.

“We become less efficient at an old age and we need to understand why this is,” Leeuwenburgh said. “One thing, maybe, is the accumulation of redox-active metals in cells.”

“If the mitochondria become unhappy or are ready to kick the bucket, they have proteins in the inner and outer membranes that they can open up and commit suicide. They’re tricky beasts,” he added.

The suicidal mitochondria can damage the rest of the muscle cell, leading to cell death and perhaps to muscle wasting, a big problem for adults as they reach their mid-seventies, Leeuwenburgh added.

“Muscle is critical for your overall well being,” Leeuwenburgh said. “As you walk, muscle functions partly as a pump to keep your blood going. Muscle is an incredible source of reserves.”

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