Keep Up That Muscle! Best Nutrients to Build and Protect Muscle Strength

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Keep Up That Muscle! Best Nutrients to Build and Protect Muscle Strength
Maintaining muscle mass is essential for healthy aging. Muscle is important for energy, metabolism, bone health, immunity, digestion, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Loss of muscle is partly due to the declining estrogen or testosterone levels that happen with aging. Muscle wasting can also affect individuals who are inactive, obese, malnourished, elderly, alcoholics, undergoing chemotherapy, or have other certain disorders. Plus, taking a statin cholesterol medication has been shown to impair muscle function. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to strengthen muscle mass and reduce muscle wasting.

Muscles are very concentrated in mitochondria, the engines of the cell that make energy. For this reason, having low muscle mass is associated with fatigue, feeling cold all the time, poor metabolism, sluggish thyroid function, and weakness.

Due to their high demand for energy, muscles are covered in insulin-regulated glucose transporters that help pull sugar out of the blood and into muscles to make energy. A loss of muscle means blood sugar will likely start to rise, giving way to insulin resistance and possibly diabetes down the road.

Good nutrition and incorporating twenty minutes of strength training into your exercise routine three times per week is the very best way to preserve and rebuild muscles. The following nutrients can help you get into an anabolic state in which you build strength.

Whey Protein – Any body builder or athlete can tell you that the key to building muscle is consuming protein/ amino acids following strength training. High quality whey protein is an easily digestible protein that fosters muscle repair and growth even in the elderly. It is also a good source of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAA, particularly leucine, stimulate the key gene signal, mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), an anabolic signal that stimulates muscle synthesis. Pay attention to labels though, because quality of whey protein matters!

DHA – In addition to the well-documented need for adequate amino acids, especially the BCAA, recent literature has published the imbalance omega-3 fatty acids in patients with the loss of muscle in the elderly, known as sarcopenia. DHA is the most bioactive omega-3 fatty acid in the human body. In clinical studies, DHA was found to enhance the rate of muscle protein synthesis better than exercise alone by stimulating mTOR signals. Additionally, DHA lowers NF-kappaB in muscles, decreasing inflammation and thereby enhancing the rate at which new muscle forms.

L-Glutamine – Glutamine is an amino acid that provides fuel to rapidly dividing cells such as the digestive tract. In studies, it was shown to stimulate muscle growth in diabetic animals. Glutamine need rises rather dramatically in response to inflammation. Our body will break down muscles to fulfill the need for glutamine if it senses a need for repair (inflammation). This could explain, in part, why sarcopenia occurs in the elderly in the first place. The more out of shape your muscles are, the more likely glutamine is to help.

Strategies to boost the efficiency of new muscle fiber formation can have a positive impact on your health and mobility. From the aging population to body builders, men and women, anyone can build more muscle by adding these nutrients to their strength training routines. What are you waiting for? Get moving!

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