Health Advice



What is sarcopenia; the skinny on garlic and blood pressure

By Kristen N. Smith, Ph.D., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: I keep hearing about sarcopenia. What is it?

A: From birth until around age 30, our muscles grow and increase in strength. However, at some point in our 30s, muscle mass begins to decrease and function is affected. This is known as sarcopenia (a condition associated with the aging process and involves a gradual and consistent loss of muscle mass and strength).

A person who is physically inactive may lose as much as three to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after turning 30, however, even active people will still experience some muscle loss. As these physical changes take place, a person's balance may be affected, as well as their gait (increasing risk of falls), and the ability to perform typical daily activities.

At this point, there is no specific test to diagnose sarcopenia, but there are a few steps that may be taken to help slow this process. The main treatment is regular exercise; specifically, strength training or resistance training (which can be done using weights or resistance bands). Talk with your doctor about other treatment options if you feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of sarcopenia.

Q: Does garlic help lower blood pressure?


A: Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for many chronic conditions; it is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, it may help reduce cholesterol, acts as a blood thinner, and helps to boost immunity due to its antioxidant properties, among many other benefits. Of interest though, is garlic's ability to help reduce blood pressure.

Allicin (one of the most beneficial high blood pressure remedies) is found in garlic. A study by researchers from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences noted that taking a 600 mg time-released garlic tablet reduced blood pressure levels in men with mild to moderate high blood pressure.

How does it work? The body increases production of a compound called angiotensin 1-converting enzyme, or "ACE" and as a result, blood pressure increases. Garlic contains gaamma-glutamylcysteine, a natural ACE inhibitor. In short, garlic contains compounds that may help neutralize ACE and it is this action, coupled with the high allicin content that allows garlic to dilate (or widen) the arteries, resulting in a reduction in blood pressure. Before incorporating garlic supplements into your day, be sure to discuss it with your doctor.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.




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