There are many reasons to eat plenty of vegetables each day. Protection against high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, macular degeneration and cognitive decline are among them.
Now, new study findings suggest another important reason – to preserve muscle strength and muscle function as you age.
Entering middle age with better muscle strength is thought to protect against disability and frailty later in life. In older adults, declines in strength increase the risk of falls, a major cause of bone fractures.
When it comes to supporting muscle function, though, not all vegetables will do the trick. According to the Australian research team, veggies packed with compounds called nitrates – e.g., leafy greens, beets – are the ones that have muscle benefits.
About the study
Previous studies have shown that taking nitrate supplements improves muscle function during an exercise test. It’s not known, though, whether a regular intake of nitrates from diet affects muscle strength and function.
The study, published online in The Journal of Nutrition on March 24, investigated the link between dietary nitrate intake and muscle function in 3,759 healthy adults who were participating in a large continuing Australian health and lifestyle study.
Participants, age 48 on average at the start of the study, were followed for 12 years, during which time dietary intake was measured at least twice. Vegetables contributed the majority (81 per cent) of daily nitrate intake.
Muscle function was measured using knee-extension strength and the 2.4-metre-TUG (Timed-Up-And-Go) test.
For the TUG test, participants were asked to rise from a seated position, walk 2.4 metres, turn, walk back and sit down again. A shorter time to complete the test indicated better speed and mobility during different tasks (e.g., sitting, standing, walking, turning).
Compared to participants with the lowest nitrate intake, those who consumed the most had significantly better knee-extension strength and faster TUG performance.
The researchers accounted for other factors that could influence muscle strength such as age, sex, body-mass index, physical activity and smoking status.
Since physical activity improves muscle strength, the researchers also looked at whether the relationship between nitrate intake and muscle function was influenced by a person’s level of daily physical activity.
Total physical activity did not alter the association between nitrate intake and muscle strength, suggesting that dietary nitrates have an independent effect on muscle function.
This study was observational and, therefore, does not prove that eating nitrate-rich vegetables improves muscle strength.
As well, only the duration of physical activity, not the type, was measured. Since different types of exercise (e.g., walking versus resistance training) vary in their effectiveness for improving muscle function, the effect of nitrates may depend on the type of exercise performed.
Even so, these findings align with past research linking higher dietary nitrate intake to better muscle strength and function in older women.
Nitrates, vegetables and muscle strength
According to Stuart Phillips, a professor in kinesiology at McMaster University and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Health and Aging, “there are plausible reasons why nitrates may benefit muscle function.”
Nitrates improve mitochondrial function, the power plant inside every cell, which could allow for better muscle strength. Nitrates are also converted to nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. Eating nitrate-rich vegetables could possibly increase the flow of oxygen to working muscles.
Vegetables that deliver the most nitrates include leafy greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens), bok choy, celery, radish and carrots.
In the study, the greatest benefits to muscle function occurred at a daily nitrate intake of 90 mg, an amount that’s easily achieved by eating one cup of leafy green vegetables each day.
While these new findings suggest that certain vegetables play a role in supporting muscle health, it’s well established that resistance training plays a crucial role.
Says Phillips, “In my estimation, nothing tops physical activity for maintaining strength. That said, these are interesting data and certainly indicate another potential upside of eating your vegetables. It can’t hurt and can likely only help.”
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD
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B.C. reports 342 new COVID cases, half of which are in Interior Health – Vernon Morning Star
The province is reporting 342 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday (Aug. 4), a number not seen since May.
Of the new cases, 66 are in Fraser Health, 57 are in Vancouver Coastal Health, 171 are in Interior Health, 13 are in Northern Health, 32 are in Island Health and three new cases are in people who typically reside outside of Canada.
There are 1,764 active cases, of which 945 are in Interior Health. There are 55 people in hospital, 23 of whom are in intensive care or ICU.
Vaccination rates for people ages 12 and older have reached 81.5 per cent for first doses and 67.9 for second doses. There have been 6,931,815 doses of COVID vaccines administered so far.
There are five long-term care facilities currently experiencing COVID outbreaks: Holyrood Manor (Fraser Health), Nelson Jubilee Manor, Kootenay Street Village, Cottonwoods Care Centre and Brookhaven Care Centre (Interior Health).
According to the province, 78 per cent of cases are in people who are unvaccinated, while 18 per cent are in people who have had just one dose.
B.C. reports 342 new cases of COVID-19 over past 24 hours, with half in Interior Health – Kamloops This Week
After days of reporting elevated case counts near 200 new per day, B.C. reported 342 new cases over the past 24 hours on Wednesday.
After a dramatic decline in cases from April to July, which the provincial government attributed to vaccinations taking hold in the province, cases have once again started spiking upwards, and the Interior Health region is leading the way.
On Wednesday, Interior Health accounted for 171 of the 342 new cases, continuing the trend of making up approximately half of all new cases in the province.
But daily case data from the BC Centre for Disease Control also shows other regions beginning to increase, including Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.
Interior Health now has nearly 1,000 active cases.
By the numbers, Fraser Health has 388 active cases, Vancouver Coastal Health has 258, Northern Health has 52, Island Health has 109, 12 are non-residents of Canada and Interior Health has 945.
As to where cases are emerging in Interior Health, weekly case data won’t be released until later on Wednesday. Previous weeks showed cases emerging in the Central Okanagan, where an outbreak was declared by Interior Health on July 28. That outbreak only affected the Central Okanagan local health area, but other local health areas also saw modest increases in cases.
Hospitalizations and deaths, however, remain low. No deaths were reported on Wednesday and only about a dozen deaths have been reported since the beginning of July.
As of Wednesday, B.C. had 55 people in hospital and 23 of those patients in ICUs.
With vaccinations continuing, B.C. has now put two doses in 67.9 per cent of everyone eligible to receive the vaccine in this province.
The province’s one-dose rate as of Wednesday is 81.5 per cent for everyone age 12 and older.
COVID-19 outbreaks in two Kelowna area care homes announced as case numbers rise | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source – iNFOnews
New case numbers of COVID-19 continue to rise across B.C., with Interior Health yet again showing the most growth.
It seems that the disease may have spread beyond the 20 to 40 age group, as well, with two new outbreaks in area care homes being reported.
Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna and Brookhaven Care Centre in West Kelowna are listed among the province’s long-term care facilities where there’s an outbreak. Brookhaven has eight cases: four residents and four staff. Cottonwoods Care Centre long-term care has three resident cases.
In the last 24 hours there have been 342 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, for a total of 150,973 cases in the province since the start of the pandemic. Of these new cases, 171 were in Interior Health.
It now has 945 of the 1,764 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 55 people are in hospital and 23 are in intensive care.
Fraser Health is reporting 66 new cases, for a total active caseload of 388, Vancouver Coastal Health is reporting 57 new cases for a total of 258 active cases, Northern Health had 13 new cases raising the active cases to 52 and Island Health had 32 new cases raising its active caseload to 109.
In the past 24 hours, no new deaths have been reported, for an overall total of 1,772.
Since December 2020, the Province has administered 6,931,815 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, 81.5% (3,777,588) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 67.9% (3,146,669) have received their second dose.
In addition, 82.4% (3,564,533) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 70.1% (3,033,200) have received their second dose.
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