Potassium-Rich Foods Protect Muscles


The typical American diet generates tiny amounts of acid each day. As people age, a mild metabolic acidosis develops. It may increase slowly over time, and it appears to trigger a muscle-wasting response.

Researchers looked at links between lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue-producing fruits and vegetables to see whether these foods influenced lean tissue mass. They conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a subset of about 400 men and women 65 years of age or older who had completed a three-year osteoporosis-intervention trial.

Physical activity, height, weight, and the percentage of lean body mass were measured at the start of the study and at three years. Urinary potassium levels were assessed at the start of the study, and dietary data were collected at 18 months.

The results indicated that volunteers with potassium-rich diets could expect to have 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than volunteers with half the higher potassium intake. According to the study's authors, this almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue that healthy men and women 65 and older typically lose in a decade.
(Source: Agricultural Research, October 2009.)

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