From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published July 2, 2012 09:35 AM

Boost Aging Muscles with a Cup of Joe

People drink coffee because they like the taste, but mostly it is for the jolt of caffeine that comes with each cup. It helps to keep the mind sharp during the haze of the early morning. A new study found another unique attribute of caffeine that could help lead to great future developments in medicine. They found that caffeine boosts power in aging muscles. As our bodies age, the muscles actually grow weaker, leading to increased incidences of falls and injuries. The stimulant commonly found in coffee is believed to send new power to those older muscles, leading to added strength for elderly people.

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Many consider the brain to be the most powerful muscle in the human body. So if caffeine can boost mental ability, why can it not also boost other muscles in the body?

Caffeine was already known to produce more power in the muscles, but it was not known how it affects weakened muscles caused by natural aging. Researchers from Coventry University for the first time looked at whether these age-related changes in muscle would alter the effect of caffeine.

Their experiments on mice showed that while the effects of caffeine are less on older muscles, they still can produce performance-enhancing benefits. They also found that the effects of caffeine were smallest for juvenile muscles, suggesting the chemical may not have an enhancing effect until the muscles are fully developed.

The loss of muscles strength later in life contributes greatly to injuries and a reduced quality of life. The process is not completely understood, but it is believed that preserving muscle tone is key.

According to lead author, Jason Tallis, "With the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle to preserve health and functional capacity, the performance-enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population."

Future research may expand upon these findings, leading to preventative treatments for the elderly who suffer from loss of muscle mass. This study has been presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on June 30.

For more information: http://www.sebiology.org/

Strong Elderly Man image via Shutterstock

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