Preventing muscle loss is crucial as you age. In an interview with Prevention magazine, Doug Paddon-Jones, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, states that people lose around 1% muscle mass per year after the age of 40.
But that doesn’t have to occur. Science shows preventing muscle loss is possible, and it is not that difficult to do. All it takes is proper nutrition and proper exercise.
Preventing Muscle Loss and Sarcopenia
Muscle loss is common with age, especially after the age of 50. Our muscle cells are in a continual process of growth, called “anabolism,” and teardown, called “catabolism.” This is accomplished through a signaling process between growth hormones and protein-destroying enzymes. The aging process appears to make the muscles resistant to growth hormones, leaving them with just the signals from the protein-destroying hormones. Muscle loss is the inevitable result.
There are, however, a couple additional risk factors for developing sarcopenia.
Inactivity: The muscles need resistance to trigger the entire breakdown and rebuild cycle, and research shows you are never too old to build muscle!
Insufficient intake of protein: Studies show that alarming numbers of seniors have protein deficiencies. This is likely because of the physical effort of cooking and chewing required of protein. Consuming enough protein is essential for normal, healthy muscle mass because protein is made of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle.
Inability to digest and absorb protein: Many seniors cannot absorb some nutrients as easily as they did in their younger years.
Symptoms of Sarcopenia
Symptoms of sarcopenia include:
- Muscle Degeneration
- Decreased Activity
- Mobility Issues
- Weak Bones (Sarcopenia often accompanies osteoporosis.)
- Decrease in resting metabolic rate, leading to weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol/triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure
These are terrible symptoms and conditions that do not have to occur. Preventing muscle loss with nutrition can stop, slow, or reverse this process.