Anyone who has ever had to stay in bed for a long time due to illness will probably be familiar with the feeling of flabby muscles and a lack of strength. Normal age-related muscle atrophy is generally not very noticeable at first. It only becomes noticeable with increasing age. It is then typical, for example, to have less physical strength than before, so that everyday activities suddenly become much more strenuous. Those affected often need more breaks, for example when climbing stairs or walking, and feel overwhelmed by even minor exertion. They also find it difficult to get back on their feet after prolonged bed rest.
If the muscle atrophy in old age is so pronounced that there is a very severe loss of functional capacity, doctors refer to this as sarcopenia. The loss of muscle mass then impairs overall body stability. This increases the risk of falls and frailty, which can subsequently lead to a lack of exercise due to anxiety or injury. This in turn has a negative impact on overall health and leads to further muscle loss and increasingly limited mobility. This can cause those affected to withdraw more and more and lose the ability to lead an independent life. In addition to targeted muscle training, nutrition can also help counteract muscle loss as we age.
Teaching older people the importance of nutrition for muscle health can be a challenge, but it is a missed opportunity for the field of sports nutrition. There is so much we can do to prevent potential sarcopenia as we age, such as resistance training and a high protein diet.
One of the problems with losing muscle mass is that we can no longer efficiently utilize the glucose in our food.
This means that less glucose can be absorbed due to reduced muscle mass, which in turn puts a strain on our pancreas, which has to produce more and more insulin in order for the glucose to be absorbed. In addition, the excess glucose that cannot be absorbed is converted into fat and deposited in our adipose tissue.
One of the causes of rapid muscle loss is our anabolic resistance to “protein synthesis” and therefore muscle replenishment. Every day we lose muscle and build new muscle at the same time, but as we get older this balance gets out of kilter and we tend to break down more than we build. In addition, the effect of protein on muscle building decreases with age, so a higher intake is required.
The old RDA value of 0.8 g/kg/day now seems rather outdated, especially when applied to older adults who require between 1.0 and 1.2 g/kg/day due to their anabolic resistance.
Regarding the discussion on animal and vegetable protein, studies have shown that animal proteins have a slightly better amino carbon acid profile, mainly due to the higher proportion of essential amino carbon acids.
In view of the increasing need for essential amino carbon acids with increasing age and the poorer protein utilization, supplementation with all 10 essential amino carbon acids in accordance with the amino carbon acid profile of human body protein as contained in Daminoc® makes sense.