Keys to prevent sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass due to age

Claves para prevenir la sarcopenia o pérdida de masa muscular por la edad

When I was little, I heard my grandmother say that after 50 years of age, people “dry up”. It was her way of defining sarcopenia, a term that has come into vogue in recent years.

Although it was in 1989 that Harvard University research neurologist Irwing Rosenberg first used the term to describe the involuntary loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with age.

Do you want to know what sarcopenia is about and how to avoid it to keep your muscles firm and healthy for many years? So keep reading.

What is sarcopenia?

If you're entering or halfway through menopause, you may have noticed that your muscles don't feel like they used to.

You lack the strength for your daily activities, feel weak, tired, lose your balance, or get tired when walking or standing.

All of this can be caused by sarcopenia. Its name is of Greek origin sarkos (meat, muscle) and penia (loss, wear) and refers to the loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging.

It begins gradually and constantly after the age of 30, both in men and women, but in women it is accentuated during menopause.

The downside is that as you progress, you lose agility and overall body strength. And if you don't do anything to prevent it, you could have trouble walking, frequent falls or not being able to climb stairs, affecting your quality of life and making you dependent on other people.

Who does sarcopenia affect?

Sarcopenia does not affect everyone equally, but it is more common with:

  • Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Changes in the functioning of the hormonal system related to age.

  • Chronic diseases and inflammation.

  • Low insulin levels.

  • Poor diet, with insufficient intake of protein, calories and nutrients in general.

  • Gastrointestinal diseases that cause malabsorption of food.

  • Insufficient amount of vitamin D, key in the metabolism of muscle and bone.

How to prevent sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass

There are people who seem to be blessed because over the years they maintain good musculature that allows them a better quality of life and greater independence. But there are many others that do not have the same luck.

Experts agree that in order to prevent it, it is key to have a healthy and active ageing, for which it is important to apply the following actions from a young age and pay much more attention after the age of 30:

  1. Avoid a sedentary life: do not spend 8 hours watching TV, Netflix or in front of your computer, move every hour.

  2. Do physical activities: walk, arm exercises, raise and raise your legs, etc. Strength exercises have been shown to be the best ally against sarcopenia.

  3. Follow a balanced, healthy and organic diet that contains :

Protein : some studies indicate that to prevent sarcopenia, protein intake should be between 1 and 1.2 g/kg of body weight per day. Ideally, it should be through foods with the best proteins: meat, fish and shellfish, eggs, milk and dairy products, legumes, quinoa and nuts. Also, you can consume it through protein supplements .

Omega-3 fatty acids: They are excellent for stimulating muscle growth, preventing inflammation and sarcopenia. Get them in cold water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod, herring, trout), shellfish and algae (nori, spirulina and chlorella).

Antioxidants – Fruits and vegetables offer you antioxidants, such as carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin C, ascorbate polyphenols, alpha tocopherol, and selenium. If you do not get the recommended daily amount you can replace it with supplements.

Vitamin D : Sufficient vitamin D can prevent sarcopenia from developing and progressing. Eat these fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna), eggs, crustaceans and mollusks (clams, octopus, squid, shrimp, mussels, lobster, scallops, among others), dairy products and derivatives. Take advantage of the sun's rays in the morning for 15-20 minutes, it will be your main source of Vitamin D.

Creatine – Consume foods rich in creatine, such as red meat, chicken, and pork. You can also take creatine as a powder or capsule supplement .

  1. Stick to 7 to 8 hours of sleep: If you are a deep sleeper , your muscles will repair themselves thanks to the growth hormone (HGH) that your body produces while you are asleep. You should also combat stress, since it is one of the factors that most disturbs sleep.

  2. Consume enough water: you must avoid dehydrating your muscles, as the vital liquid acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints. If it is difficult for you, here you will learn how to hydrate without drinking water .

  3. Avoid alcoholic beverages, tobacco and drugs: all of them damage your muscle mass.

  4. Minimize ultra-processed foods, refined sugars and salt: none of them nourish your muscles or any part of your body. In fact, its excessive intake aggravates sarcopenia and favors the appearance of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems.

Guarantee yourself a healthy and independent old age with good muscle mass by applying these tips. Remember that the main key is to prevent and not take action when it is too late.

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