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Resistance training paired with peanut protein affects muscle health in older adults

Evidence-based and cost-effective lifestyle interventions, such as resistance training (RT) and ensuring optimal dietary protein intake, aim to increase muscle mass in older individuals, and support healthy aging and longevity.

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Declines in muscle mass and strength can begin in early adulthood, unnoticeable at first, and eventually progress until functionality, endurance, and general health may be compromised. Evidence-based and cost-effective lifestyle interventions, such as resistance training (RT) and ensuring optimal dietary protein intake, aim to increase muscle mass in older individuals, and support healthy aging and longevity.

Now, as the popularity and consumer demand for plant-based protein to support exercise training grows, the full array of essential and non-essential amino acids and high protein digestibility of defatted peanut protein powder (PP) makes it an exceptional plant-based protein option. Yet, no studies to date have examined if PP combined with RT can enhance training adaptations and measures of muscle mass, function and strength, especially in an older population. For the first time, a randomized controlled clinical trial from researchers at Auburn University published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition demonstrates that in combination with RT, intake of PP positively affects select markers of muscle growth and strength among untrained, older adults.

“Many of the previous studies in this space have looked at how animal-based or soy protein-based supplements enhance the response to resistance training,” says Dr. Roberts, PhD, a co-principal investigator on the study from Auburn University in the School of Kinesiology. “This study suggests that pairing resistance training with supplemental peanut powder may be an effective plant-based protein solution to meet protein needs and perhaps slow or prevent age-related loss of muscle in older adults.”

Thirty-nine older, untrained individuals completed a six-week or ten-week supervised RT program, where full-body training was implemented twice weekly. Participants were also randomly assigned to consume either a PP supplement mixed with 16 fl. oz. of water once per day (75 total grams of powder providing 30 grams protein, >9.2 grams of essential amino acids, ~315 calories) or be a “wait-list” control who did not receive any supplement (CTL). On workout days, PP supplements were provided immediately following exercise and compliance was monitored by trained study personnel. Skeletal muscle biopsies and other markers of muscle quality, body composition and strength, as well as three-day self-reported habitual food intake, were collected.

PP supplementation significantly increased knee flexion peak torque – a marker of muscle strength – in the ten-week cohort relative to the CTL group. In looking at the combined data from both the six- and ten-week groups, PP participants experienced significant increases in vastus lateralis (VL) thickness – a measure of muscle growth – compared to CTL participants. Notably, the consumption of protein and fiber significantly increased during the study in the PP group compared to CTL. This is attributed to the ~15 grams per day of fiber and 30 grams per day of protein received from the nutritional supplement. Surprisingly, PP supplementation after one bout of resistance exercise did not enhance muscle protein synthesis rates within a 24-hour period following the first training bout. Body composition was not different between the PP and CTL groups.

“There is strong evidence to suggest protein needs, specifically, the intake of more essential amino acids, increase with age due to many factors,” added co-principal investigator, Drew Frugé, PhD, RD, with the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management at Auburn University. “The protein isolated from peanuts contains a full complement of essential amino acids, including the important muscle growth ‘switch’ leucine, that can be delivered in a nutrient-dense package with the functional benefit of being simply incorporated into many easy to consume and tasty food or beverage preparations that meet the dietary needs of older adults.”

This study followed a rigorous methodology by using a randomized design in a laboratory setting and supervising participant training, as well as PP supplement compliance. However, the researchers noted a few limitations, mainly the duration of the intervention of the second cohort. As the original intent was to recruit two separate ten-week cohorts, due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the researchers voluntarily decided to end the second cohort after only six weeks of training to maintain the health and safety of the participants. The decision to compare PP supplementation to no supplementation was made to establish more “real world” relevance (i.e., people supplement their diets with protein powder, or nothing at all).

Despite such limitations, the researchers concluded that “…peanut protein powder supplementation with 6-10 weeks of resistance training enhance certain aspects of muscle hypertrophy and strength in older adults, compared to a resistance training program alone in the elderly population.” Future studies that are longer in duration are needed to definitively determine if PP supplementation can enhance hypertrophic adaptations with resistance training.

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The article, “The effects of resistance training with or without peanut protein supplementation on skeletal muscle and strength adaptations in older individuals”, is published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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Fitness

6 Exercise safety tips

Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are more aware of their health and wellness. Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.

Sprains, strains and injuries can happen to even the most seasoned athletes. When you’re testing your limits, even a minor injury can alter your performance. Consider products and supports like these from the CURAD Performance Series product line, available at Walmart and Amazon, to help you get back in the game quickly and safely.

Find more resources to support your fitness journey at CURAD.com.

Keep Dirt and Germs Away

The more active you are, the harder it can be to find a bandage that stays with you all day or all game long.

Spray Away Sore Spots

Controlling mild pain can help keep you at the top of your game, and a topical analgesic works fast to heal common pain brought on by fitness and exercise, such as pain in knees, feet, shoulders and backs.

Put Pain in the Past

When recovery becomes the name of the game and pain relief is needed after daily workouts or bodily injuries. Cold packs work to heal bruises, reduce swelling and relieve headaches and general pain points while microwavable heat packs provide satisfying heat therapy to address sore and stiff joints, muscle cramps and tension.

Reduce Impact of Knee Strain

Weak, injured or arthritic knees can come from many sources, including tendonitis and a wide range of conditions that result in strain or overuse. An adjustable band can provide support for on-field sports and during workouts or everyday activities.

Manage Pain and Relieve Pressure

If you participate in endurance and strength exercises or certain sports, you may ask a lot of your joints. Kinesiology tape can be configured a multitude of ways to help reduce pain and improve blood circulation, as well as relieve tension and pressure.

Control Back Strain

When your back is strained, your body and performance can suffer. A mild or moderate sprain can benefit from strong support and compression.

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Fitness

Exercise can provide relief for dry, itchy eyes

A significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise can be another remedy for relieving dry, itchy eyes.

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Photo by Quinten de Graaf from Unsplash.com

A team led by researchers from the University of Waterloo discovered that a significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise can be another remedy for relieving dry, itchy eyes. 

Every time we blink, our eyes are covered in tear film—an essential protective coating necessary for maintaining healthy ocular function. Healthy tear film comprises three layers–oil, water, and mucin–that work together to hydrate the ocular surface and protect against infection-causing irritants like dust or dirt.

When any part of the tear film becomes unstable, the ocular surface can develop dry spots, causing eye symptoms like itchiness or stinging and burning sensations.

“With so much of our activity tied to screen usage, dry eye symptoms are becoming increasingly common,” said Heinz Otchere, a PhD candidate in vision science at Waterloo. “Instead of having to use eye drops or other alternative treatments, our study aimed to determine if remaining physically active can be an effective preventative measure against dryness.”

Fifty-two participants were divided into two groups—athlete and non-athlete—to participate in an exercise session. Participants in the athlete group exercised at least five times per week, while non-athlete participants exercised no more than once per week. Researchers, which included experts from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, performed visual examinations before and five minutes after each exercise session, where tear secretion and tear break-up time were assessed.

While participants in the athlete group showed the largest increase, Otchere says all participants experienced a meaningful boost in tear quantity and tear film stability after the exercise session. 

“It can be challenging for people to regularly exercise when the demand is there to work increasingly longer hours in front of screens,” Otchere said. “However, our findings show physical activity can be really important for not just our overall well-being, but for our ocular health too.”

The study, Differential effect of maximal incremental treadmill exercise on tear secretion and tear film stability in athletes and non-athletes, was co-authored by Otchere, the University of Cape Coast’s Samuel Abokyi, Sekyere Nyamaah, and Michael Ntodie, and Ghana’s Our Lady of Grace Hospital’s Yaw Osei Akoto. It was recently published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.

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Fitness

Late-life exercise shows rejuvenating effects on cellular level

Late-life exercise mitigates skeletal muscle epigenetic aging.

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Photo by Caley Vanular from Unsplash.com

For people who hate exercising, here comes some more bad news: it may also keep you younger. Not just looking younger, but actually younger, on an epigenetic level. By now, the benefits of exercise have been well established, including increased strength of bones and muscles, improved mobility and endurance, and lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

But younger?

A study recently published in Aging Cell, “Late-life exercise mitigates skeletal muscle epigenetic aging,” suggests this could be the case. The paper was written by a team of seven researchers across three institutions, including Kevin Murach, an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at the U of A. Murach’s grant from the National Institute of Health funded the study, and he was one of three co-first authors.

Bootcamp for Mice

While the paper is dense with data, reflecting the use of several analytic tools, the experiment that generated the data was relatively straightforward. Lab mice nearing the end of their natural lifespan, at 22 months, were allowed access to a weighted exercise wheel. Generally, mice require no coercion to run and will do so voluntarily. Older mice will run anywhere from six to eight kilometers a day, mostly in spurts, while younger mice may run up to 10-12 kilometers. The weighted wheel ensured they built muscle. While there isn’t a direct analogue to most human exercise routines, Murach likened it to “a soldier carrying a heavy backpack many miles.”

When the mice were studied after two months of progressive weighted wheel running, it was determined that they were the epigenetic age of mice eight weeks younger than sedentary mice of the same age — 24 months. Murach noted that while the specific strain of mice and their housing conditions can impact lifespans, “historically, they start dropping off after 24 months at a significant rate.” Needless to say, when your lifespan is measured in months, an extra eight weeks — roughly 10 percent of that lifespan — is a noteworthy gain.

Methylation, My Dear Watson

The science behind this, while complicated, hinges largely on a biological process known as DNA methylation. A recent New York Times article discussing Murach’s work on muscle memory described methylation “as a process in which clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach themselves to the outside of genes like minuscule barnacles, making the genes more or less likely to turn on and produce particular proteins.”

As the body ages, there tends to be increased DNA methylation, or even hypermethylation, at promoter sites on genes in muscle. “DNA methylation changes in a lifespan tend to happen in a somewhat systematic fashion,” Murach explained, “to the point you can look at someone’s DNA from a given tissue sample and with a fair degree of accuracy predict their chronological age.” Due to this, researchers can use one of a number of “methylation clocks” to determine the age of a DNA sample.

DNA Methylation, Aging and Exercise

While the paper strengthens the case for exercise, there is still much that needs to be learned. Though the connection between methylation and aging is clear, the connection between methylation and muscle function is less clear. Murach is not yet prepared to say that the reversal of methylation with exercise is causative for improved muscle health. “That’s not what the study was set up to do,” he explained. However, he intends to pursue future studies to determine if “changes in methylation result in altered muscle function.”

“If so, what are the consequences of this?” he continued. “Do changes on these very specific methylation sites have an actual phenotype that emerges from that? Is it what’s causing aging or is it just associated with it? Is it just something that happens in concert with a variety of other things that are happening during the aging process? So that’s what we don’t know.”

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