Aging is a complex process that affects all body systems which fail slowly with age for a number of reasons. One of the mechanisms that slows us down during aging is the gradual failure of mitochondria an organelle that generates energy for our cells. This is especially noticeable in nerve and muscle cells. Numerous features of mitochondria decline with age, as do the content of important compounds in muscle cells. Fortunately, regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is one way to maintain mitochondrial function. Scientists have shown experimentally that regular exercise can improve mitochondrial function. In fact, exercise not only helps us in mobility and weight control, but also maintains the health of muscle cells. Unfortunately, as we age, it becomes more difficult for us to exercise, and mitochondria do not always respond positively to exercise. Starting in later stages of middle age, recent scientific studies show that exercise can no longer fully maintain muscle health. This means that other methods need to be applied to help maintain the flow of energy in the cells of the elderly.
However, it turns out that there may be alternative routes to support your mitochondria. A number of chemical compounds can help maintain and restore our cellular energy factories. One such compound is resveratrol. This compound is a phytochemical and is present in the skins of grapes and the roots of some plants. Resveratrol belongs to a group of agents called antioxidants. These chemicals are capable of eliminating so-called reactive oxygen species that can break down important biological molecules. In addition, resveratrol interacts with several genes important for mitochondrial activity – AMPK, SIRT1, and SIRT3. SIRT1 is a gene that is particularly important for mitochondrial activity. In mice, activation of the SIRT1 gene by resveratrol unblocks another factor, PGC-1α, which stimulates the creation of new mitochondria.
In another experiment, resveratrol combined with exercise resulted in improvements in some muscle parameters in elderly mice. The study authors decided to replicate this idea for older patients and see if a combination of exercise with resveratrol improves well-being, mobility, and muscle condition in older patients.
It was decided to conduct the research in accordance with the guidelines for the so-called double-blind trials, which provide the most objective results for testing the effectiveness of medical interventions. In clinical trials, the combination of resveratrol in tablet form and specially prescribed exercise has been studied. About 60 men and women aged 65 and over were selected. Before participating in the study, all participants were sedentary. The study design selected the people who would benefit the most – those who have certain physical limitations, such as difficulty crossing corridors and speed walking. Overall, there were three groups of participants:
- Those who took placebo
- Those who took resveratrol at a dosage of 500mg/day
- Those who took resveratrol at a dosage of 1000 mg/day
All participants also joined the exercise program.
All participants would be tested for several parameters:
- Self-assessment of the state of health before and after the trial;
- Condition of muscle tissue based on muscle biopsy (for those patients who are ready to participate in such a study);
- Strength of the lower limbs before/after the program
- Ability to walk at speed before and after the program.
- State of the mitochondria before and after the program.
Scientists hope that this trial will bring a number of benefits, both theoretical and practical. On the one hand, they will better understand muscle aging in humans; on the other hand, they can develop a system that has the potential to support elderly patients who are forced to lead a passive sedentary lifestyle.
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