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One Side Effect of Aging You May Be Overlooking

One Side Effect of Aging You May Be Overlooking | Mr Vitamins
As we age, certain aspects of our health come into focus, such as cognition, heart health, and bone and joint health. However, there is another part of your body that you should start addressing as early as your 30s! And that is your muscle mass.

Sarcopenia: The osteoporosis of your muscles

As you probably know, osteoporosis is the medical term for bone density loss, which weakens bones increasing their risk of fracture. Well, sarcopenia is the medical term for muscle mass loss, which leads to:
  • Physical disability
  • Decreased vitality
  • Poor balance
  • Slow gait
  • Dangerous falls
And needless to say, these effects can also take a toll on your bones.

Why is Muscle Mass not emphasised?

From a very young age, individuals are taught to be conscious of their bone health. Women especially are warned about their risk of osteoporosis and how that risk increases following menopause. Nevertheless, strengthening your muscles is just as important! And this goes for everyone, not just athletes. Research shows that your muscle mass increases during childhood, but peaks anywhere from your late adolescence to your late 20s. From age 25 to 50, muscle mass declines slowly by about 10 percent and it speeds up during your 50s. However, the most drastic loss in muscle mass starts at age 60. Therefore, without personal intervention, by the age of 80 the average individual’s muscle mass is just slightly more than 50 percent of what it was during their 20s. These facts make you wonder why supporting muscle mass is not emphasised for everyone.

Is Sarcopenia natural or a disease?

A little bit of both, actually. As muscle cells age, they naturally lose their ability to respond to different growth-promoting factors in the body, like insulin. On the other hand, sarcopenia may result from chronic insulin resistance as seen in type 2 diabetes and obesity. Another contributor to the development of sarcopenia is inflammation.

Reduce Inflammation to prevent Muscle Mass loss

As a common underlying cause for almost every degenerative condition, inflammation should and can be reduced through your diet. As a bonus, reduced inflammation cannot only help you prevent sarcopenia, but also other health conditions that are associated with aging. Here’s how:
  • Eat fewer animal products and eat more plant foods
  • Get more omega-3 fish oil
  • Consume nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, coconut, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
  • Use only monounsaturated oil (i.e. olive, macadamia) or saturated coconut oil
  • Get 5 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables (remember your colours!)
  • Limit intake of carbs, sugar, and grains
  • Take 25 to 50 g of whey protein every day
  • If you are strength-training, take 1 g of creatine for every 23 kg you weigh

Time to grab the weights!

Strength training is the most crucial step in preventing muscle mass loss. This involves lifting weights or doing resistance exercises regularly. Keep in mind that instead of exercising with barbells or machines, you can always engage in exercises that utilise your own body weight, like pushups, crunches, squats, step-ups, and lunges. Ladies: Do not worry that strength training will make you gain weight. Building muscle actually burns fat while improving heart health, joint function, antioxidant production, and self-esteem! There are also forms of yoga that include strength training. Just ‘Ask a Naturopath’ for details.

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