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275 East 4th Street, Suite 345, Saint Paul, MN 55101
(651) 796-2540
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Beyond Exercise: Nutrition to Help Postpone Age-Related Muscle Loss

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

As we think about aging, we know there are external physical changes, but also internal aging that occurs that manifests as loss of muscle and bone mass. As we age, our bodies change, especially when adherence to a healthy diet and regular physical activity diminish. There are, however, practical things you can do to address age-related muscle and bone loss.

Sarcopenia and Natural Aging

Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss and fat gain, becomes more common with age. It can be serious, and despite affecting all types of people, sarcopenia is at epidemic levels in older adults due largely to inactivity and diminished protein stores. It's a hidden epidemic that few people talk about.

Here are the facts; we gradually lose muscle mass and gain fat as we age and when preventative steps aren’t taken early on, syndromes such as sarcopenia can result in becoming physically weaker and more frail as we age later in life, beginning as early as 60. This can then lead to falls, less stamina, and potential long-term care needs.

Fortunately, lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and reasonable exercise, make a difference, and can even reverse sarcopenia.

Preventing Sarcopenia Through Exercise 

The only proven method for the prevention of sarcopenia is progressive resistance trainig1, such as modified push-ups, squats in a chair, or step-ups, based on your strength and ability.  Muscles and bones respond to the good physical stress you place on them. Without that good physical stress, your muscles will atrophy with age, becoming weaker and smaller.

Losing muscle tissue makes you more prone to falls, and strength training counters this tendency and leads to gains in strength and muscle size. Feeling and becoming stronger and more stable on your feet can also make everyday chores easier, like lifting objects, vacuuming and sweeping, and simply walking about your home. It's never too late to start. 

Preventing Sarcopenia Through Nutrition 

Nutritional interventions, such as consuming more protein, can help you prevent the development of sarcopenia. Muscles need amino acids from protein to repair and rebuild, and therefore proper nutrition, which can be linked to muscle mass and strength, has an important role in the prevention and management of sarcopenia, especially with adults over the age of 60. Sedentary people need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which is about 56 grams of protein per day for men, and 46 grams of protein for women; for reference, a 3-ounce cooked chicken breast has 26 grams of protein, 1 large egg has 6 grams of protein, and 1 cup of lentil soup has 8 grams of protein. Physically active people may need to consume more depending on their exercise regime.

The Mediterranean Diet Fights Sarcopenia 

Researchers in the journal Nutrients found that selenium, magnesium, and omega-3s boost muscle health and help prevent sarcopenia. They may also improve muscle performance. How about diet? A study found that a Mediterranean diet with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and olive oil may protect against sarcopenia. Plus, this diet is nutrient-dense and rich in selenium, magnesium, and omega-3s. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies suggest that low-grade inflammation plays a role in sarcopenia.

The Bottom Line 

A healthy combination of physical activity and a nutrient-rich diet that contains enough protein can help prevent, manage or even reverse age-related sarcopenia. Working your muscles against resistance provides the stimulus for muscle growth while a nutrient-dense diet supplies the nutrients your muscles and bones need. Focus on both.

Comfort Keepers can help

At Comfort Keepers, we help seniors and other adults maintain independence in the comfort of their own Twin Cities home. We create a personalized care plan for each client and focus our care on promoting physical, mental, and emotional engagement, as well as provide good nutrition and an overall safe and healthy environment. Contact our team at (651) 796-2540 to ask questions about our care services, rates, and in-home caregivers

1.The Iowa Clinic: