Muscle tone: the impact on health

Muscle declining  starts at the age of 30 and worsens after 50.
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Muscle tone: the impact on health

Muscle declining  starts at the age of 30 and worsens after 50.

This is a harsh reality – but there are solutions to remedy this phenomenon by combining a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Muscle loss (sarcopenia) is one of the major signs of visible ageing on the body.  This may go unnoticed for some time because some muscle is replaced by fat and retains its volume – but muscle function and physical abilities decrease.

According to the French National Academy of Medicine, we lose more than 150 grams of muscle per year from the age of 50.  This equates to 6 to 8% of muscle mass lost per decade.

What is the impact of muscle loss (lean mass) on health?

  • Impaired blood circulation
  • Poorly regulated blood sugar levels
  • Weakened immune defence (lack of stock to make immune proteins)
  • Affected body temperature
  • Excess weight (fewer calories burned)
  • Loss of bone density

The causes of muscle loss are multifactorial:

  • Decreased digestive performance (enzymatic and intestinal)
  • Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in quality proteins
  • Acid-base imbalance linked to diet (too much refined sugar, not enough vegetables)
  • Excessive stress

As explained by Dr Morel, an anti-ageing specialist: stress leads to a loss of glutamine, an amino acid that is drawn from the muscle.   Glutamine is a major source of energy for the muscle tissue and also for the cells of the immune system and intestinal gut wall.  Also, a drop in hormone production (growth hormone and testosterone) affects the synthesis of muscle fibres.

A sedentary lifestyle intensifies muscle loss after the age of 30.

What can be done?   Priority to a healthy lifestyle

1/ Restore good digestive function to improve nutrient absorption / assimilation / transformation of amino acids into muscle proteins.

This includes assessment via lab test of the intestinal microbiota in order to prioritize an intervention of nutrients and plants.

2/ Adopt a healthy nutritional plan balanced with high quality organic nutrients.

See health theme topic : Nutrition and Vitality.

By analyzing your individual profile and adapting the chrono-nutrition (timing of food during the day), you will find a balanced diet that suits you.  Such a plan would focus on the type and daily portions of the following:

  • Proteins: from animals and plants

The eight essential amino acids (which the body cannot produce) must be provided by the diet for building muscle.  While animal proteins are more efficient, plant-based proteins are also suitable when combined correctly.  As they tend to lack one or two amino acids, certain cereals should be combined with legumes.  Be careful with the dosage and cooking of legumes to be soaked to minimize anti-nutritional elements (phytates or lectins) which hinder digestion and the absorption of minerals.

To minimize saturated fats, which are a source of inflammation, choose lean meats, organic eggs and wild fish, combining quality proteins and anti-inflammatory omega-3 EPA and DHA.

  • Fruits and vegetables: Providing vitamins, minerals / potassium favoring the acid-base balance.
    • Cooked / raw vegetables: providing vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The method of cooking has a major influence on the digestion and assimilation of food.  Gentle cooking / steaming below 120 degrees will preserve vitamins.

  • Fruits: rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Unrefined cereals: Choose cereals to promote a low glycaemic index – reducing the sugar content of foods to avoid acidification, insulin resistance and weight gain.
  • Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas are a source of vegetable protein combined with cereals.  But attention must be paid to portion size, preparation and cooking methods to avoid unwanted effects:
    • High consumption of cereals and legumes may increase the carbohydrate intake and may cause too much fermentation (by starch).
    • Excess phytate in cereals and legumes (whole grain husks) has a double negative effect on protein digestion, containing proteins that are difficult to hydrolyze and inhibit digestive enzymes.
  • Healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids):

Quality vegetable oils such as olive oil and polyunsaturated oils (rapeseed, walnut) have beneficial effects on health provided they are not heated.

Unsaturated fatty acids (small fatty fish, rapeseed oil, walnuts) promote muscle protein synthesis in the elderly and young adults. Our modern diet is very often deficient in omega-3 [1].

According to a health check-up established during a consultation, and complemented if needed by lab tests, an individualized micro-nutrition program will enable the diet to be supplemented temporarily to address any deficiencies effectively.

This involves providing specific supplements from natural sources, in doses adapted to your state of health – without synthetic ingredients, excipients, solvents or nanoparticles – in a more concentrated form than available through food, to accelerate the process of getting back into shape.

3/ Program regular physical activity alongside a nutritional plan to burn fat and optimize muscle tone (maintenance or gain of lean mass by stimulating growth hormone).

  • Frequency: 3 times a week
  • Duration: 30 minutes to start, then 45 minutes
  • Type: alternating endurance and resistance exercises – using your own body weight first, and then dumbbells. Some exercises build muscle more than others.

The 1 to 2% of muscle mass that we lose on average each year after the age of 40 can be practically recovered in a few weeks with adequate training accompanied by a naturopath -nutritionist and a sports coach.

Numerous studies prove that the right physical exercise can build muscle at any age.  The same energy during exercise can be used at 25 or 75 years of age, provided you train hard enough [2].

4/ Stimulate motivation and muscle tone through phytotherapy.

Based on the individual needs of the client, the naturopath can advise a synergy of plants to support mood, motivation and physical and mental resistance.

Movement is life, so maintain your muscular tone which is the engine of it!  This can have enormous beneficial effects on your health.

[1] Smith GI, et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):402-12.

[2] Rosenkilde M, et al. Inability to match energy intake with energy expenditure at sustained near-maximal rates of energy expenditure in older men during a 14-d cycling expedition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1398-405.