Elderly Muscle Rejuvenation is Possible, Likely to Help Flu Immunity

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Research shows that strength training in elderly people1 at the rate of 20 minutes, three times per week can go a long way to prevent muscle breakdown and restore circulation to muscles. This is especially important during the flu season, as muscles are the primary reserves of protein that the immune system needs to build antibodies if a person has to fight an infection.

Insulin takes calories to your muscles so that they can build and repair. This means the healthy effect of insulin on muscles is anabolic (tissue building). Yet, many elderly individuals are in a state of muscle decline reflected by excessive muscle breakdown (catabolic). In this study, researchers found that the difference between young and old muscles was partly due to insulin not working right in the elderly people.  This problem was corrected by strength building exercise so that insulin function was the same and muscle could rejuvenate. They also found that circulation to leg muscles could be corrected with the strength training exercise.

Muscle fitness is of immense importance to immunity as your muscles are the only significant reserve of protein your body has to use in a time of need. Thus, if you do get sick part of your ability to fight off the infection will depend on the status of your muscle fitness. If you are already in a catabolic or weakened muscle status your ability to use muscle to make antibodies to fight a viral flu will be lessened. This means a flu bug could be more intense or last longer simply because you can’t make immune troops due to the protein shortage.

Over the years I have noticed that improving your muscle is not only good for your overall health, but it also tends to correct immunological weakness to the point that building muscle often prevents illness.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Muscle Aging in the Elderly  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  1.Emilie A Wilkes, Anna L Selby, Philip J Atherton, Rekha Patel, Debbie Rankin, Ken Smith, and Michael J Rennie.

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