How to Maintain Muscle Health
Safeguarding muscle mass can be done with a few simple strategies – mainly focusing on physical activity and proper nutrition. This is especially important as we age. Adults 40+ can lose up to 8% of their muscle mass per decade - a rate that can double after the age of 70.
The SHIELD (Strengthening Health In ELDerly through nutrition) study found high prevalence of low muscle mass among 4 in 5 older adults in Singapore at risk of malnutrition, which may impact overall health and immune function. Older adults who received individualized dietary counseling and consumed oral nutritional supplements (ONS) found significant improvement in nutritional status, physical function and health.
“Nutrition is fundamental for people to live well, particularly for older adults to maintain their strength and support their immune health, prevent disease and aid their illness recovery," said Yen Ling Low, PhD, divisional vice president, scientific and medical affairs at Abbott and co-author of the study.
"That’s why Abbott has been researching the impact of nutrition in adults for more than 45 years. The latest clinical research on aging confirms that with the right nutritional intervention and dietary guidance, older adults – even those at risk of malnutrition - can improve their nutritional status, mobility and strength, and help them lead fuller lives, into their golden years."
To preserve muscles:
- Engage in Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, and include resistance training to also help maintain muscles and strength.
- Eat Enough Protein: Incorporate protein foods, like chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans or dairy into your diet, and aim for about 25-30 grams of protein per meal. Adults 65+ require higher amounts of protein than young adults, and some can need almost double the amount depending on their nutritional status or if they have an acute or chronic disease.9,10 To amp up protein intake further, add in protein snacks, like one before bed or supplement your diet if needed.
- Follow a Nutritious Diet: Choose a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, healthy fats and key vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D.
- Consider HMB: HMB is a naturally occurring compound that helps preserve and build muscle mass by hindering muscle breakdown. Along with exercise, HMB can also help improve muscle strength and function.11 While HMB is naturally found in foods such as avocados, grapefruit, and catfish, it’s hard to get enough from food sources alone.12 That’s why it can be beneficial to look for a nutritional supplement that includes HMB.
Making an effort to maintain or improve muscle mass can have extensive benefits on health. Many may immediately think of the role muscle can have on our strength and energy – especially as we age, but research points to its positive impact on the immune system, as well.