So how important is our muscular-skeletal system? And is it inevitable that we will lose mass amounts of muscle due to the very fact that we are aging?
Our muscular-skeletal system is imperative to keep us moving. However, the system also contributes to effective metabolic function, which includes immune function support. So, scientifically speaking, if the human body loses muscle mass, the result is a severe decrease in functional movement, strength, metabolic function and immune support.
In other words, according to Life Extension Magazine, ?This suggests that frail elderly people with decreased muscle mass may have poorer outcomes after major surgery or traumatic accidents, since they lack the metabolic reservoir of muscle mass to support the immune system and other bodily systems during the recovery process.?
A research study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found ?If there is a preexisting deficiency of muscle mass before trauma, the acute loss of muscle mass and function may push an individual over a threshold that makes recovery of normal function unlikely to ever occur. For this reason, greater than 50 percent of women older than 65 years who break a hip in a fall never walk again.?
Starting at the age of 40 there is a decline in muscle mass, and after the age of 75 it rapidly increases in loss. However some individuals suffer from a condition referred to as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia as defined by the Agricultural Research Service occurs ?when muscle mass begins to decline at a rate of about 1 percent per year, from the age of 40.?
The true term sarcopenia was proposed by Irwin Rosenberg, in 1989, ?to describe the age-related decrease in muscle mass.? Although there are other conditions that can cause muscle mass reduction, they are not considered to be sarcopenia.
Per Rosenberg?s definition, as a geriatric syndrome, the definitive causes are not fully researched and understood. At this time, Agricultural Research Services has concluded that ?this gradual loss has been tied to protein deficiency, lack of exercise and increased frailty among the elderly.?
However, it has been found that sarcopenia can also occur in individuals who are physically active. According to the majority of the limited research, sarcopenia has many contributing factors.
?Like osteoporosis, sarcopenia is a multifactorial disease process that may result from sub-optimal hormone levels, inadequate dietary protein, other nutritional imbalances, lack of exercise, oxidative stress, and inflammation,? according to Life Extension Magazine.
As mentioned, sarcopenia and osteoporosis are connected, as Nick Mitchell?s Ultimate Performance blog notes:
Sarcopenia and osteoporosis are directly related conditions, one often following the other. Muscles generate the mechanical stress required to keep our bones healthy; when muscle activity is reduced it exacerbates the osteoporosis problem and a vicious circle is established, which accelerates the decline in health and functionality.
Although osteoporosis has had more traction when it comes to research and public knowledge, sarcopenia is now being ?recognized as one of the major public health problems now facing industrialized nations, and its effects are expected to place increasing demands on public health care systems worldwide.?
As a public health concern, obesity is at the forefront due to its health consequences and the increasing demand the obesity rates are placing on our health care system. Often those who are obese have quite a few of the key contributing factors of sarcopenia.
Unfortunately, common solutions to reduce body mass on an obese individual have been calorie restricted diets, with limited exercise. Although the result of a low calorie, nutrient restricted diet, as well as some cardiovascular exercise, can achieve weight loss, this fails to address the impact this may have on muscle mass and bone density. A healthy eating program that is designed to reduce body mass should take into consideration increasing muscle mass and bone density.
When designing a body mass reduction program, ?the desired result should be identified in terms of outcomes on muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function, as opposed to traditional measures of exercise training, such as the maximal oxygen consumption, which have little direct relation to health outcomes, according to the study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In other words a body mass reduction program that is designed to include proper nutrition and physical activity will also have a positive effect in reducing the risk of sarcopenia as well as osteoporosis.
Although this is only the beginning of discussions, when it comes to the needs of stopping or preventing sarcopenia it should be noted that the other key factors such as sub-optimal hormones, oxidative stress and inflammation are linked to osteoporosis as well as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and the list goes on. In essence the loss of muscle as we age is not inevitable but it is preventable, as are many of these other diseases. However, as our population continues to maintain unhealthy lifestyles, aging and loss of muscle mass are inevitable.
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