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Unnatural Muscle Loss During the Aging Process

Unnatural Muscle Loss During the Aging Process

Dealing with the aging process can be stressful, as things change in parts of the body that you never paid much attention to. Although growing older happens with time, you might have a sudden revelation about how you have lost your energy, muscle mass, or glowing skin. There are a few common conditions associated with aging, and with the right education, you can begin to fortify your body against some of the damage.

Understanding Sarcopenia

As adults age past 50 years old, muscle loss is common. This natural process is called sarcopenia, but for about 10% of adults that aging, the condition is severe and increased the risk of reduced life expectancy. It can also destroy the quality of life for those who suffer from the condition. There is evidence that you can reverse and even prevent the consequences of sarcopenia, but you need to be proactive in how you address the problem. The word sarcopenia actually means a “lack of flesh”, and this loss occurs gradually over time. When an adult reaches middle age, it is estimated that there is about a 3% loss in muscle strength each year. As loss continues to happen, it can reduce your ability to engage in daily activities or make your lifestyle more challenging.

Sarcopenia is blamed on aging, but the root of the problems starts with cell growth. An imbalance occurs between the signals that instigate muscle cell growth (a process called anabolism) and the signals that direct teardown (a process called catabolism). One example is the human growth hormone (HGH) and it’s related processes. The HGH works with protein-destroying enzymes to help maintain muscle tone and mass when the growth process begins, moves through stress or injury, is destroyed, and through the healing process. When this cycle occurs and the hormone levels are kept in balance, the muscle retains its strength. This is one reason why an anti-aging protocol using peptide injections is instrumental in preserving your muscular tone and strength. The peptides target the production of hormones and restore the balance with your levels of HGH, as the body slows the production of the hormone as you age. Throughout the aging process, the body becomes more resistant to growth signals while still complying with catabolism processes. This creates an imbalance that causes muscle loss.

Accelerating a Condition of Sarcopenia

Though many want to blame natural aging for their problems with muscle loss, this is a condition that can be influenced by lifestyle. There are four primary factors that influence the severity of sarcopenia.

1. Sedentary Lifestyle and Immobility

Failure to engage your muscles on a daily basis is one of the stronger triggers of severe sarcopenia. It increases the rate at which you lose your muscle mass and increases your weakness. Whenever an individual is immobilized after a severe injury or period of illness or an individual is placed on bed rest for a medical condition, it can lead to an increased loss of muscle as well. However, in those who are aging, simply reducing activity levels can decrease muscle strength and mass. The less you walk or move around, the more your muscle strength decreases. As this happens, it becomes more difficult to get back on track and resume normal activity. This just makes the situation worse, and a vicious cycle ensues.

2. Poor Diet

The things you eat are always important to your health, but with sarcopenia, not getting the protein and caloric intake can result in reduced muscle mass and severe weight loss. Poor nutrition is often a problem as individuals age since there are changes to the body’s ability to taste, chew, or swallow. However, it also less likely that the elderly will prepare themselves nutritious meals when they have mobility challenges, poor eyesight, or a lack of energy. Increasing the amount of protein consumed each day can help prevent sarcopenia, and the doctors recommend eating at least 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.

3. Stress

After the body experiences health conditions that cause stress, it is common for sarcopenia to develop. Those who suffer from chronic heart failure and chronic liver disease are at increased risk of developing muscle loss. There is a decreased activity that occurs when suffering from cancer and cancer treatments, which is another leading factor in developing sarcopenia.

4. Inflammation

When your body suffers an illness or injury, the inflammation that occurs increases the frequency of signals used to begin tearing down and rebuilding cells. Chronic illness or long-term disease creates a long-term imbalance in the build-up and teardown cellular processes, creating muscle loss.

Knowing these four influencing factors on sarcopenia brings insight into your own habits and lifestyle. You can prevent damage and reduced muscle mass by keeping a healthy diet filled with protein and a lifestyle that maintains consistent activity levels.


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About the author

Dr. Richard Smith, MD

7 min read