Nutrition

The “Popeye Secret” for Stronger Muscles

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The “Popeye Secret” for Stronger Muscles about undefined
It’s no secret that the older you get, the harder it becomes to stay physically strong. Simple things like lifting a grandchild or helping your spouse in the yard can seem like daunting tasks.

And there’s a good reason for this…

Research shows that you lose three percent of your muscle mass every year after the age of 60.1 But this doesn’t have to be your story. Because new research shows that there’s a “Popeye secret” that can give you super muscles, no matter what your age.

Even better? You could see results in just a matter of weeks. Here’s everything you need to know…

When you think about the cartoon character Popeye you probably think about his bulging arm muscles. They grew, of course, every time he was faced with a physical challenge and ate a can of spinach. While his giant muscles may seem like an exaggeration, new research shows that spinach really can give you strong, healthy muscles so you can face the physical challenges that life presents you.

Increased Muscle Strength 

A recent study published in the journal Nutrients shows the benefits of spinach in adults over the age of 50. For the research, participants aged 50 and over consumed 500 mg of the natural spinach extract, Spinacia oleracea L., four times daily for 12 weeks. They also performed one hour of moderate-intensity exercise three times per week.

The placebo group did the same type and amount of exercise but without spinach supplementation.

Scientists analyzed the participant’s muscle strength using isokinetic and isometric dynamometers – special devices that test the strength and power of different muscle groups.2 At the end of the study, both groups experienced increased muscle strength. But the spinach extract group had better outcomes in muscle function and muscle quality.3 The study authors commented, “In our opinion, gains in muscle quality in the intervention group is very positive. Better muscle quality is an important contributor of muscle health and healthy aging.”

And they are absolutely correct.

Research shows that folks who suffer from sarcopenia – age-related loss of muscle mass – have an increased risk of mortality compared to their stronger peers.4 This means that keeping strong muscles could help you live a longer, more independent life.

More Good Leafy Green News 

Another recent study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that just one daily serving of leafy greens – like spinach – can boost muscle function in the legs.

This is great news for any senior looking to stop falls before they start. For the research, scientists tracked the dietary habits and muscle tone of 3,759 Australians for 12 years. At the end, the results showed that folks eating around three ounces of greens a day – about two handfuls of spinach – experienced an 11 percent boost in leg strength.

Even better? Greens eaters also improved their walking speed by four percent!5 This means eating your greens can help you improve your strength and help you stay independent well into your golden years!

But not all greens are created equal. According to the study’s lead author Dr. Marc Sim from Edith Cowan University, spinach provided the greatest benefits to study participants because it is high in nitrate – a chemical that helps increase your muscle power.6 He went on to say, “We should be eating a variety of vegetables every day, with at least one of those servings being leafy greens to gain a range of positive health benefits for the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system.

“It’s also better to eat nitrate-rich vegetables as part of a healthy diet rather than taking supplements. Green leafy vegetables provide a whole range of essential vitamins and minerals critical for health.” Dr. Sim continues, “Nevertheless, to optimize muscle function we propose that a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables in combination with regular exercise, including weight training, is ideal.”

My Takeaway 

You can find spinach supplements at your local natural health store or through online retailers. But I agree with the good doctor, to get the most bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with fresh organic spinach. And it’s summertime, there’s never a better season to enjoy a spinach salad with fresh tomatoes, peppers or fresh fruit like cherries or strawberries.

It’s also important to note that these studies indicate that you shouldn’t rely only on supplements and dietary habits for real muscle strength. Adding in regular exercise is a must to help you remain strong, stable, and healthy for years to come.
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940510/ 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/isokinetic-dynamometer 
  3. https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2022/03/24/study-spinach-extract-can-boost-muscle-
    mass-in-older-adults 
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40520-014-0281-4 
  5. https://www.studyfinds.org/spinach-make-muscles-stronger/ 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8501726/ 

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