As we age we are no longer growing but in a stage of free fall where we are attempting to maintain our bodies in the pursuit of aging gracefully. A major factor in the aging process is age related atrophy, muscle atrophy, commonly known as Sarcopenia. This condition, once in full swing, can have serious health consequences that are far reaching.
Sarcopenia is defined as a loss of skeletal muscle mass accompanied by aging. This process is relatively slow and therefore many people do not contribute it to health related issues. This is a common mistake that can be costly to overall health while aging, and the key to longevity may very well be connected with maintaining this lost muscle mass.
This age related phenomenon has its hand in many health issues. An almost completely sedentary lifestyle can sometimes lead to complete paralysis. This weakness can lead to further disease.
Dr Sreekumran Nair, Ph.D.., M.D. is a leading researcher at the Mayo Clinic, and he has identified muscle atrophy as a heavy hitter in activating the aging process. Beginning in the 30s, muscle mass begins its steady decline and along with it a sedentary lifestyle ensues. Rapid deterioration begins in the mid-60s; body fat begins to replace the muscle mass that is lost and in turn the body's metabolism suffers.
Researchers, including Dr Nair, have shown that during the aging process key components utilized in muscles such as myosin, ATP/ADP, decrease with age. Other nutrients involved in the overall process like branch chain amino acids and other essential and non-essential proteins are not processed and used as efficiently. Basically the body has a harder time converting these from raw materials, and it requires more of the substances in order to use them as effectively.
Studies continue to support supplementing with amino acids, specifically branch chain amino acids (BCAA), as a way to supply the body with more of the essential building blocks to support muscle growth. In turn with physical activity, including strength training helps the body maintain muscle and therefore prevent many age related issues related to muscle waste.
Of course real foods are always a better solution for the body then an isolate supplement. There are foods that provide higher quantities of amino acids and other life building blocks. Protein requirements increase as we age. Utilizing natural proteins such as hemp seeds is a great way to increase your intake. Three tablespoons worth provides all amino acids plus the essential 9 amino acids as well. They also contain the right 3:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids plus GLA and SDA in significant quantities. Pea protein is also being touted as a better source then whey protein as it provides comparable BCAA values to whey and eggs, as well as more satiety after consumption. Providing an aging body with increased protein and amino acids, Pea protein is another way to receive plant proteins instead of animal proteins.
Maintaining muscle by providing the body with the building blocks it needs to flourish is essential throughout life but even more so as we age. Physical activity and a correct diet should be a staple of every individual in order to reach a ripe old age in optimum shape.