• CDC: With age, muscles lose their strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • The human muscle progenitor cell is key to skeletal muscle regeneration
  • Study: Blueberry-rich diet can improve muscle progenitor cell proliferation

A diet with blueberries might improve muscle growth and repair, finds a new study which revealed that the low-calorie dark blue colored berries might improve one’s potential for preservation and recovery of skeletal muscle mass.

The experts at Cornell University investigated how serum from women who indulged in a blueberry-rich diet would affect the cells responsible for muscle growth and repair. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Muscles lose their strength, flexibility, and endurance over time, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Muscle mass can decrease about 3-5% every decade, especially after one turns 30. This calls for dietary interventions and other strategies to improve muscle progenitor cell proliferation and lower oxidative stress that could aid muscle regeneration during aging.

The human muscle progenitor cell or hMPC is responsible for skeletal muscle regeneration. However, it remains unclear if dietary interventions impact the function of these cells. The researchers examined if blueberries- which are known for its pro-proliferative and antioxidant effects might play a role in this.

The Study:

Younger women aged 21 to 40 years of age and older women above 60 were asked to consume freeze-dried blueberries on a daily basis for a period of six weeks. They were also requested to avoid other foods that are rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols.

The researchers then obtained the serum from the participants about a couple of hours after the consumption of their morning doses of blueberries. They then investigated how the serum would affect muscle progenitor cell function by calculating the cell number, capacity to manage oxidative stress, etc.

Here’s what they found:

  • Six-week blueberry-enriched serum obtained from women in the age group 25 to 40 had an increased number of human muscle progenitor cells
  • Resistance to oxidative stress and increased oxygen consumption of cells was also noted
  • No changes were noted in the muscle progenitor cells obtained from study participants aged 60 and older who consumed the same blueberry-rich diet

"The consequences associated with the deterioration of skeletal muscle are a loss of mobility, decreased quality of life, and ultimately, loss of independence. Currently, research on dietary interventions to support skeletal muscle regeneration in humans is limited. This preliminary study of muscle progenitor cell function paves the way for future studies to develop clinical interventions," EurekAlert quoted the study’s lead author Anna Thalacker-Mercer, Ph.D.

A bowl of blueberries is pictured. Pexels