What if most of what we think we know about aging is wrong?
Must we accept that all we have to look forward to is making our children repay the many fun favors of caregiving (I.e., parenting in reverse)…is that the way it’s supposed to be?
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years…” – Psalm 90:10
“Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.” – Deuteronomy 34:7
Oh, certainly, those were different times, we may tell ourselves. Today, in spite of our many medical and technological advances, we have greater lim-it-at-ions?
Is it possible that Moses was indirectly instructing us about aging all those years ago?
Of course, I can’t say for sure but I can tell you that those two ancient passages contain clues that just so happen to align perfectly with present day leading-edge scientific research surrounding a muscle disease called “sarcopenia”, which is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process”.
Ironically, just earlier this year some of the other great minds at Oxford University released another landmark publication entitled, “Sarcopenia: revised European consensus on definition and diagnosis” wherein sarcopenia is literally redefined, per the latest scientific evidence on the subject, as “a muscle disease” … often but not always associated with aging … “with ever-increasing possibilities for preventing, delaying, treating, and sometimes even reversing by way of early and effective interventions.”
The consensus goes on for about 30 pages to eloquently tell you – using as many large words as possible as only research scientists can do (I should know as a recovering one myself!) – many of the negative associations we attribute to aging are in actuality symptoms of sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is a disease as insidious as cancer but much less discussed – and I would argue much easier to prevent and treat even in its later stages.
The really great news about this is that while aging is most certainly happening everyday of our lives to everybody, sarcopenia is not an inevitable part of aging.
Wouldn’t you know it, the most effective way to combat it has been known since biblical times. If you want to give yourself the best chance to choose how you age, choose to maintain your muscles/strength as you age.
It really is that simple.
Action steps for staying strong and healthy as we age:
1. Get an annual sarcopenia screening. You do this for every other condition you want to avoid, why not the one that’s the root cause of many of them?
2. Start strength training. Walking, as great as it is, does not effectively protect and preserve your muscle tissue and thus it won’t protect you from sarcopenia or get you any stronger. You must push your muscles to a point of fatigue in a very specific manner to effectively combat sarcopenia. If you don’t know how to do this be safe and seek some professional guidance before starting a routine.
3. Make sure you are getting sufficient quality proteins each day. Approximately, 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight is what we need to nutritionally slow sarcopenia‘s roll. If you have a history of kidney problems you should talk to your doctor before increasing your protein intake significantly.
4. Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level with your next blood test. Low levels of vitamin D have been correlated to a whole host of conditions including poor immune function, hormonal imbalance, and yes, sarcopenia.
5. Drink lots of clean, quality water, everyday. Our skeletal muscles are 79% water and our heart muscle is 83% water. They simply cannot function properly without adequate water. About one half your body weight in water is what you need to get by each day, and by the time you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated.
Written by: Matt Essex, VitalityHealth
Matt Essex holds a Master’s of Science degree in Exercise and Wellness from Arizona State University where he also served as a research scientist/director for several years before founding VitalityHealth, the country’s premier and only chain of sarcopenia clinics. Essex is considered a foremost expert in both strength and aging and sarcopenia prevention. VitalityHeath and it’s affiliates have successfully treated thousands of people across the U.S. with moderate to severe levels of sarcopenia, empowering them to once again live life to the fullest and proving you truly can choose how you age.