December 22, 2023

Is muscle mass the secret to healthy ageing?

Skeletal muscle, a remarkable human body component, stands out for its dynamic and plastic nature. It accounts for approximately 40% of total body weight in humans and holds a staggering 50-75% of all body proteins. This muscle mass is a product of a delicate balance between protein synthesis and degradation, a balance influenced by numerous factors, including nutritional status, hormonal balance, physical activity or exercise, and various conditions like injury or disease. Understanding the importance of oversight in how we view muscle mass as a critical health marker as we age is vital.

Building on this known science, the insights of Dr. Gabrielle Lyon offer a pivotal shift in our approach to health and ageing. The real challenge in ageing, as emphasised by Dr. Lyon, is not being overfat but under-muscled. This perspective shifts our health goals from focusing solely on weight management to nurturing and sustaining muscle mass, a key yet often neglected aspect of overall health and longevity.

As Dr Lyon highlighted, muscle is not just about physical strength; it’s an essential organ in our metabolic health and hormonal balance. The direct link between muscle mass and our body’s ability to manage insulin underscores the importance of muscle health in our overall wellness strategy.

Yet, a common misconception is equating physical strength with health. Dr. Lyon challenges this view by underscoring the importance of muscle mass over mere strength. Muscle mass is essential for maintaining balance, mobility, and overall vitality in ageing. This insight shifts the narrative around exercise for older adults, focusing on muscle maintenance and strength training.

The benefits of physical activity, particularly strength training, extend beyond the muscles to the brain. Regular muscle-building exercises play a significant role in cognitive health, reinforcing that a healthy body supports a healthy mind.

However, integrating strength training into daily routines, especially for older adults, is challenging. It requires changing beliefs about ageing and exercise, emphasising the profound benefits of muscle health and making strength training a regular, accessible part of health routines for all ages.

Nutrition is another critical aspect of muscle health. Beyond general discussions about protein, Dr. Lyon highlights the specific nutritional needs for maintaining muscle mass. The importance of dietary cholesterol, creatine, and other nutrients in muscle maintenance cannot be overstated. This nuanced understanding of nutrition highlights the need for a balanced and informed approach to diet, particularly in the context of ageing.

Dr. Lyon’s insights challenge traditional views of ageing and health and pave the way for new possibilities in healthful ageing. By focussing on muscle health through targeted exercise and nutrition, thereby emphasising the significance of muscle, we can redefine the ageing process ensuring our later years are marked by vitality and strength. This approach offers promising pathways to a healthier, more vibrant ageing experience.

Summer Salad Idea, AKA ‘Burrata Caprese Salad’

1. Halve the cherry tomatoes and set aside.

2. Slice the nectarines into cubes or quarters.

3. On a serving platter, toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and nectarine slices.

4. Cut the burrata cheese into smaller pieces over the tomatoes and nectarines.

5. Be generous with the basil and dress over the salad for an aromatic & healthy touch.

6. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the salad to taste.

7. Add a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy flavour.

8. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the flavours.

9. Serve to eat and enjoy the delightful combination of creamy burrata, juicy cherry tomatoes, sweet nectarines, and fragrant basil.