Diets rich in potassium appear to help preserve muscle. A study was recently conducted by the federal Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston (reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March ’08). They were interested in keeping muscles strong so that the muscles could help prevent falls that so often cause bone breakage in the elderly. They had a study group of almost 400 men and women and they tracked them for 3 years. They were giving them calcium and vitamin D for bone health. After the three years were over they looked at the amount of muscle participants had and correlated it to other components in their diet. The strongest correlation was the potassium intake. Individuals with the highest potassium intake were able to protect their muscles “enough to offset a good chunk of, if not all of, the age-related decline in muscle that normally occurs,” said the researchers. How does potassium help? The researchers believe that the potassium acts as an alkaline buffer to acids that build up in the muscles and trigger breakdown. The acids are naturally produced when protein and cereal grains get broken down by the body. Better choice of diet? Get fewer carbs from cereal grains and focus on fruits and veggies. The bonus is that fruits and veggies are high in potassium!

Source: Science News, March 29, 2008