More muscles in old age thanks to curcumin

As we get older which as Masters Athletes is part of the game, your body loses more and more muscle mass. Initially that decay of the muscle tissue is so slow it is hardly noticed, but year after year that declining process runs that little bit faster than the previous one.

Researchers have found that Supplementation with curcumin, the bioactive substance in everyday turmeric, can actually block this process, which for us ageing athletes is great news. 

A team of American sports scientists, who are affiliated with Syracuse University, performed experiments with “masters” rats. This is because, just like us people, old rats also break down muscle tissue. The researchers divided their rats into 3 groups.


During 4 month long research programme, the researchers gave a control group normal standard rat feed without any bioactive substances. The animals were as expected and standard allowed to eat as much as they wanted. [CON]

The lucky rats in the experimental group received their feed loaded with added good stuff “curcumin”. The equivalent human dose given would have been 150 milligrams of curcumin daily. [CUR]

Curcumin as we all know has a bitter taste. Therefore, just like you would expect the rats ate less food than the control group. That is why the research team a 3rd group as much feed as the CUR group but without the good stuff. [PAIR]


The Results
After the 4 months reteach, the rats in the curcumin group had a huge 13 and 40 percent more muscle mass fibres than the other groups

More muscles in old age thanks to curcumin supplementation


Below you can see just how curcumin may protect muscle mass against ageing-related decline. In the muscles of the rats in the curcumin group, the Nrf-2 gene was much more active. NRF-2 switches on a wide range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules which we know are important for slowing down the ageing process.

More muscles in old age thanks to curcumin supplementation


Because of these bad inflammation and oxidants, ageing muscle cells easily break down muscle proteins. In the muscle tissue of the rats given curcumin, the researchers found less of those damaged proteins.

More muscles in old age thanks to curcumin supplementation




“The intended aim and outcome of this study was to investigate the impact of prolonged exposure to supplementary curcumin on skeletal muscle”, the researchers summarise. “The results help build the knowledge base required to assess the efficacy of long-term curcumin supplementation for the treatment of sarcopenia.””

“Future work should expand upon the findings and continue to determine the efficacy of curcumin on muscle mass and function by employing different populations and modes of administration.” Which of course is where we as Masters Athletes may find benefits

Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 1178.