Muscle Mass, Longevity and EVOO - Blog # 65
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to take a look at muscle mass and what we can do to maintain and even grow our muscles into our senior years. Why is this important? Did you know muscle mass is linked to longevity? The more muscle mass you have by the age of 40, the less likely you are to die prematurely. Loss of muscle strength and mobility is what puts us in a nursing home!! After 40, growth hormone levels decline and we steadily lose muscle mass if we aren’t actively preventing it. We lose corresponding strength dramatically as well around the age of 60. Let’s delve in.
Muscle is the largest organ of the body by mass at nearly 60%. Muscle not only moves our bodies, but regulates many things in the body such as metabolism. Muscle is our metabolic currency! It is our reservoir for amino acids that are building blocks for DNA synthesis and repair, hormone production, immune system function and skin integrity. Skeletal muscle is a huge consumer of glucose and can help to regulate blood sugar. Our muscles also produce anti-inflammatory molecules that combat oxidative stress and inflammation.
“The degenerative, generalized, and precipitous loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality and strength associated with aging is termed “sarcopenia” and is characterized by muscle loss of ~0.5–1.0% per year. Sarcopenia is “widely regarded as multifactorial, with neurological decline, hormonal changes, inflammatory pathway activation, declines in activity, chronic illness, fatty infiltration, and poor nutrition, all shown to be contributing factors.” We lose flexibility, strength, balance, bone density and more when we lose muscle. It leads to obesity, frailty, falls, bone fractures, loss of function, poor recovery after injury or surgery and more. We stay in a low-grade inflamed state. “Studies conducted among community-dwelling older adults suggest that the proinflammatory state does have a long-term consequence for sarcopenia.”
Progressive deterioration of muscle quality, including reductions in fiber size, number, contractile function, degree of lipid (fat) infiltration as well as impaired neurological modulation of contraction is related to functional impairment with aging. To further compound this muscle loss, the rise in obesity is creating new challenges to our health and longevity. Unfortunately, the trend is a significant rise in obesity coupled with sarcopenia that is now termed “sarcopenic-obesity.” So, now you have poorly functioning muscle in an obese body that is very difficult to move around. Consequences of obesity include increased risk of metabolic syndrome, sarcopenia, T2D (type 2 diabetes), cancer, cardiovascular disease and even death. This abdominal fat becomes a hormone-excreting organ that causes damage all over the body.
“The development of sarcopenic-obesity is thought to be brought about by a combination of factors that contribute to the development of both conditions and is associated with significantly greater body fat, oxidative stress and inflammation and intracellular lipotoxicity, glucose and endocrine dysregulation, as well as impaired muscle strength and lower lean body mass. Further, when obesity and impaired muscle function co-exist, they act synergistically in a “vicious cycle” on the risk of developing multiple health-related outcomes.” There is actually a lot we can do to fix this issue.
Skeletal muscle is dynamic in that it is constantly being broken down and built back up. When we sleep, muscle breakdown exceeds muscle building. It is imperative that we create situations in which our muscle building exceeds breakdown. Exercise and strength training as well as dietary protein are crucial for the health of our muscles. As we get older, we don’t make proteins as well and need to consume whole muscle. If you are vegan or vegetarian, this is more of a challenge. Unfortunately, you can’t get everything your muscles need from plant proteins, so you need to supplement.
So, what can we do to hang on to our muscle mass or even grow muscle into our later years and optimize function within those years? I don’t know about you, but I have NO DESIRE to EVER move into a nursing home. I want to live to120 fully functioning in body and mind until the last moment!!! When we look at all the factors that damage or cause muscle loss, we need to address each and every one of these with careful strategy. Let’s take a look -
- Exercise - If you are over the age of 40, you need strength training (ST). Don’t get me wrong, you still need to get your heart rate up and get some cardiovascular exercise in too. However, performing exercises where you lift a weight or pull a band specifically to build strength in a specific muscle or muscle group is imperative! When muscles pull on bones, it stimulates the bone to absorb more calcium and get stronger. Researchers noted that “ST tends to promote better results with higher doses, further concluding that 10 weekly sets per muscle group or more may be necessary to maximize muscle hypertrophy.” Basically, they are saying that in order to grow your muscle, there is a minimum threshold or volume that must be met. If you aren’t lifting weights, pushing, pulling, working your muscles in some way multiple times per day/week, you will not be able to gain muscle. That being said, obviously there is a minimum threshold to meet to prevent loss of muscle. If you are just starting an exercise program, consult your MD or your PT (physical therapist). Start with low weight (or just your body weight) and 10-15 reps x 3 sets. Take frequent exercise “snacks” during the day. Stand up from your computer. Stretch. Try 3 sets of 10 jumping jacks or squats. Do 3 sets of 10 modified counter pushups. Go for a walk at lunch. This not only boosts your muscle strength, enhances metabolism, destroys hunger, lowers blood pressure, balances hormones, prevents blood clots and does many other good things for you. Proper exercise and drinking enough water are 2 ways to significantly curb hunger.
- Protein - You MUST get adequate protein to gain muscle and prevent muscle loss. The older we get, the less efficient our body is at making amino acids and the more we require from our diets. There are also essential amino acids, as we all know, that MUST be consumed from the diet. BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) leucine, isoleucine and valine are required to build muscle. These are high in beef, fish, poultry, eggs. High quality proteins include: Grass-fed beef, cheeses and dairy. Wild-caught fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, anchovies, caviar, salmon roe and shellfish. Pastured organic chicken and eggs. These high quality proteins are also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients from what they are eating!! This is a significant difference from conventionally raised animals. You can get some protein from vegetables, but if you are vegetarian or vegan you’ll likely need to supplement your B vitamins, particularly B-12.
- Nutrition - What you eat is incredibly important!! Food is information to your body. It is code for your system. Guard your body like you do your computer! Upgrade your code. Eat good fats, high quality proteins, the rainbow of organic or wild veggies and lower glycemic fruits. We need to be consuming around 25 different vegetables per week to get the variety of polyphenols and fiber. Supplement with organic super greens in a smoothie if you are having trouble getting enough greens. Omit processed foods, particularly highly processed foods, processed meats, conventional dairy and high carbohydrate diets. Eat organic to avoid glyphosate, preservatives and food additives. Supplement with a powerful multi-vitamin such as grass-fed beef liver. Muscle contains a tremendous amount of mitochondria (check out Blog # 64) that produce energy. When we eat a meal, we get glucose into the bloodstream that produces a spike in insulin. Our muscles are capable of gobbling up glucose without requiring insulin!!!! We just need to MOVE. Going for a walk after dinner will help lower your insulin load!!! This is crucial. Eat the rainbow of veggies to supply fiber for your gut microbes and polyphenols for their sisters, the mitochondria!!! You CANNOT build strength without the help of mitochondria. “Mitochondrial function and mitochondrial biogenesis appear to be altered in skeletal muscles of older adults, which in turn may contribute to altered skeletal muscle mass and function.”
- Hydrate - Most people walk around dehydrated. Water is required to transport key nutrients involved in muscle metabolism and growth. Make sure your water is filtered and not in plastic. Drink your body weight in ounces per day for optimal hydration. Make sure you are getting enough electrolytes with it so you are hydrating inside your cells as well!!! Take a pinch of Himalayan sea salt under the tongue a few times per day or put lemon in your water. You can also get electrolytes to put in water like Tom Brady does. Take your game to the next level!!! “As a general rule, the American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 oz of water about 2 or 3 hours before your workout. During your warm-up, they advise drinking 8 oz of water; when you're exercising, you should drink 7 to 10 oz of water every 10 to 20 minutes. Finally, they recommend drinking 8 oz of water no more than 30 minutes after your workout. Furthermore, if you sweat during your training session, you should drink 16 to 24 oz of water for every pound of lost body weight.”
- Trace Minerals - There are 7 essential trace minerals that your body doesn’t store and need to be taken in daily. These include zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, iodine, silica, and selenium. They are important cofactors for enzymes to make things happen in the body. Zinc is involved in >300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Magnesium is involved in >600 enzymatic reactions. Most people need to supplement zinc and magnesium due to depleted soil. Here in the U.S. >70 crops are sprayed with glyphosate that chelates (binds) these minerals from the soil. Having the proper balance of electrolytes, water and trace minerals helps the function of our muscles. You can also eat pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts to get some of these minerals.
- Sleep - This cannot be emphasized enough. Getting good quality sleep is vital for muscle function and mitochondrial function. We have low energy when we don’t get good sleep. Protect your sleep by getting bright light in the am, low light (red) at night, magnesium to relax in a cool dark room. Avoid staying up late, eating late and throwing your circadian rhythm out of whack. Try to eat at least 3 hours before going to sleep so your body can get into its clean up and repair mode, rather than stay in digestive mode. Check out Blog # 47!
- Combat Stress - Get your chronic stress level down. Cortisol plays havoc on the body, creates inflammation and damages mitochondria, which in turn damages muscle. A simple tactic is doing deep slow breathing. Breathing in through the nose enhances nitric oxide production, which goes a long way in combating stress and lowering blood pressure. Slow breathing, counting to 7 breathing in through the nose, 4 sec hold, counting to 7 breathing out through the mouth. Just doing this a few times during the day can help reduce cortisol, enhance mitochondrial function, lower blood pressure and has many other benefits.
- Vitamin D3 - Really a hormone and has multiple functions in the body, including the absorption of calcium. “Vitamin D status is positively associated with physical performance and inversely associated with risk of falling. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve tests of muscle performance, reduce falls, and possibly impact on muscle fiber composition and morphology in vitamin D deficient older adults.” Most of us are low in vitamin D!!!! Deficiency is related to myopathy (muscle diseases). Vitamin D is fat-soluble and requires fat for absorption!! Take with EVOO!!
- Quercetin - Researchers found an increase in biomarkers for mitochondrial biogenesis (in mice) that were associated with an increase in both maximal endurance capacity and voluntary wheel-running activity - without exercise training! “These benefits of querectin on fitness without exercise training may have important implications for enhancement of athletic and military performance and may also extend to prevention and/or treatment of chronic diseases.” “Quercetin, a natural polyphenolic flavonoid, is present in a wide variety of food plants, including red onions, apples, and berries, and has been shown in combination with other antioxidants and caffeine to improve endurance time-trial performance on a bicycle ergometer when fed for 6 wk in humans.”
- CoQ-10 - This co-enzyme is ubiquitous throughout the body but concentrated in the mitochondria. Its production diminishes after the age of 20. It is involved in the rate-limiting step in the production of ATP (energy). This is a HUGE problem to those taking a statin drug. Statins prevent this step, which causes muscle loss, muscle damage and pain. I have personally seen patients taking statins go from being able to mow their lawn to being unable to transfer from a recliner to a wheelchair without help. Statins shouldStudies with Olympic athletes showed a significant increase in peak power after 6 weeks supplementation compared to placebo. “There are hundreds of studies showing that CoQ10 is effective for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscular dystrophy and neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease).”
- Hot and Cold - Hormesis, or a temporary stress to the body that makes it stronger afterward - Take a hot bath or sauna to enhance blood flow and detoxification, follow with an ice bath or cold shower x at least 1 minute. This boosts your mitochondrial strength and numbers! Try this every day for a week and see how much more energetic and clean you feel!
- Omega 3s - These fatty acids are incredibly important! The incorporation of DHA and EPA in the membranes of sarcomeres and intracellular organelles is linked to enhanced rates of muscle building, inhibition of muscle breakdown and enhanced mitochondrial respiration!! It also is very important for neurological health and speed of neural transmission. “The primary means by which omega-3 fatty acids positively impact skeletal muscle mass is via incorporation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n−3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n−3) into membrane phospholipids of the sarcolemma and intracellular organelles. Enrichment of EPA and DHA in these membrane phospholipids is linked to enhanced rates of muscle protein synthesis, decreased expression of factors that regulate muscle protein breakdown, and improved mitochondrial respiration kinetics.”
- HP-EVOO - high polyphenol EVOO - polyphenols are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumor and cardio-protective. This high quality fat is the most nutritious on the planet, providing vitamins E and K that are crucial in maintaining arterial health. You can’t have muscle power without blood supply. Polyphenols provide fuel for the mitochondria, who in turn make energy to power your muscles. Polyphenols help with muscle recovery as well by decreasing pain and inflammation due to micro-tearing during a workout. A recent study in mice proved that mice fed EVOO + exercise on treadmill prevented osteoarthritis. EVOO also contains many bioactive molecules, like hydrophilic phenols, phytosterols, tocopherols and carotenes that provide several functional properties. “EVOO has a large variety of carotenoids and chlorophylls, from β-Carotene, violaxanthin, neoxanthin, lutein and other xanthophylls to chlorophyll a and b, pheophytin a and b and other minor derivatives.” Recent studies have revealed that cooking with EVOO can improve the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of polyphenols! Consuming EVOO with your veggies enhances the bioavailability and absorption of vitamins, polyphenols and phytonutrients. “Carotenoids quench free radicals, reduce damage from reactive oxygen species, and appear to modulate redox-sensitive transcription factors such as NF-κB that are involved in the upregulation of IL-6 and other proinflammatory cytokines. Recent epidemiological studies in community-dwelling older adults show that low serum/plasma carotenoids are independently associated with low skeletal muscle strength and the development of walking disability.”