Insulin is normally associated with diabetes, but scientists recently claimed the hormone can help older persons who are suffering for a different reason.
Insulin is necessary for muscle growth because it increases blood flow and helps distribute nutrients. Researchers at the University of Texas now say that increasing insulin levels in the elderly can in turn lead to the restoration of muscles that have ceased growing.
"Insulin is normally secreted during food intake," said Dr.
Elena Volpi, who recently wrote a piece for the medical journal Diabetologia. "When we gave seniors double the insulin they would normally produce after eating, their muscles were stimulated like those of young people."
Volpi and her colleagues worked with a group of 14 elderly people who volunteered to have their thigh muscles examined after being given insulin infusions.
Research is now being performed to see if drugs that dilate muscle blood vessels while they're exposed to insulin could also help muscles grow in the elderly. Volpi says that so far this research has produced positive results.