(NaturalNews) Having weaker, smaller muscles isn't just a cosmetic problem for older people. It contributes to countless deaths and suffering in the elderly, too, because it puts them at high risk for falls and fractures. Mainstream medicine has long asserted that significant muscle loss is inevitable as you age, although exercise can help some.
What's more, muscle loss (technically called sarcopenia) doesn't just strike all of a sudden when you are extremely old, either. Muscle loss can start in your 30s. In a new article just published in Today's Dietician, Becky Dorner, RD, and Mary Ellen Posthauer, RD, note that, "between the ages of 30 and 60, the average adult will gain 1lb of weight and lose 1/2 lb of muscle yearly, a total gain of 30 lbs of fat and a loss of 15 lbs of muscle."
Although significant muscle loss may sound like a depressing part of aging, that is simply the fate of aging humans, there may be ways to stop it. Weight bearing exercise has long been known to benefit muscle strength but it turns out nutritional changes could be a key to avoiding and even reversing muscle loss due to age. A study recently published in the Osteoporosis International journal concludes that dietary strategies could be effective in halting muscle mass loss.
The new review of numerous worldwide studies by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group identified these important nutritional factors shown to be not only likely beneficial to the prevention and maintenance of muscle mass but to the treatment of sarcopenia, as well:
Avoiding dietary acid loads. Excess intake of acid-producing nutrients (meat and cereal grains) and a low intake of alkalizing fruits and vegetables appear to have negative effects on the body's muscles and skeleton. The researchers noted that eating more fruits and vegetables should benefit both bones and muscles.
Protein. Adequate protein plays an integral part in muscle health. However, getting this protein from meat could be counter-productive because it raises the acidity of the body, possibly negatively impacting muscle mass.
Vitamin D. As Natural News has reported previously, many studies have indicated a role for vitamin D in building health in a host of ways - including the development and preservation of muscle mass and function. The new study recommends getting adequate vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and/or supplements.
Vitamin B12 and/or folic acid. The IOF researchers say more research is needed on these vitamins but they appear to play a role in improving muscle function and strength. In addition, the scientists are calling for more studies to see if antioxidants can potential prevent and treat sarcopenia, too.
"The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training," Professor Jean-Philippe Bonjour, co-author of the paper and Professor of Medicine at the University of Geneva, said in a press statement. "However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal dietary acid-base balance are also very important elements of any strategy to preserve muscle mass and strength during aging."
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.