Sarcopenia....never heard of this word before? Well it's coming to a doctor's office near you shortly. Why am I writing about muscle wasting in a blogspace devoted to obesity topics? Because other than the elderly, the same patients who are gaining weight or remaining obese for most of their lives, are sedentary and they have less than normal amounts of muscle mass. Why is muscle mass important?
Well, aside from keeping your metabolic rate somewhat intact (since muscle cells typically support a somewhat faster metabolic rate), muscle mass helps you maintain your basic strength related functions. A typical aging scenario is someone who can no longer walk without support or even open a jar, a daily effort we all take for granted. So when you lose muscle mass, you lose quality of life. According to some recent studies and symposiums on health, doctors are all not on the same page when it comes to defining sarcopenia or the health implications of sarcopenia. However they are all on the same page when it comes to preventing this disease that is mostly associated with aging.
Though one long term study of patients for over 50 years showed that a small subset of the group were able to maintain their muscle mass, most lost ground during the decades of their lives. It should also be noted that most studies found that strength deteriorates more rapidly than muscle mass itself. Of course, drug manufacturers and food manufacturers are sitting on the sidelines right now, watching the studies and the interest in sarcopenia grow. It stands to reason that they see an immediate profit margin developing if they can figure out foods or compounds that support muscle mass other than anabolic steroids, which are currently not considered safe or a viable option.
It's believed that over time sarcopenia will be spoken about when conditions of muscle mass or strength are viewed, with the same relevance that osteoporosis is given, when it comes to discussions about bone health. What can you do right now to preserve your muscle?
Engage in strength training or weight training several days a week. Monitor your grip strength and make sure you don't see a decline. Eat a diet that includes adequate protein - meat and non- meat based. Make sure your doctor is evaluating your muscle mass on a regular basis. And certainly when it comes to the aging population, we need to engage them in programs that work on building their muscle mass back to levels that will allow them to engage in what is called tasks of daily living, meaning the ability to do daily tasks like opening a refrigerator door and a jar, unassisted.
Published On: October 18, 2010