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Did you know that besides playing a crucial role in maintaining our body's movement, balance and posture, muscles also play a role in supporting our metabolism and even our facial structure? As a result, a low muscle mass may increase the likelihood of illness and injuries and decrease physical mobility.
According to Anna Jacob, Nutrition Director for Abbott Singapore, the prevalence of low muscle mass is higher in females (24.9 per cent) than in males (15.5 per cent)* amongst Singaporeans over 65 years. So if you think the atrophy of muscles is something only the older folks have to worry about, you can never be more wrong. From around age 40, individuals can lose up to eight per cent of their muscle mass every decade. And there’s more! Data suggests that the loss of muscle mass is associated with compromised immunity and infections, besides having lower bone density. Therefore, it pays to start taking active steps to build muscle strength early.
But how do we continue to do the things we love with each passing year? Is it even possible to regain muscle strength as we grow older? Yahoo Shopping chatted with Anna Jacob, who revealed that muscle age might not necessarily equate to your biological age. For example, individuals in their 40s may have a higher muscle age in the 50s. Sounds good! Read on for full details on the active steps we can take to fortify our muscles and live our best life ever!
While we acknowledge muscle loss as a part of natural ageing, Jacob believes that it is "never too late to regain muscle strength" via the combined effort of regular exercise and a balanced diet with sufficient protein. Here are five tips from the Nutrition Director for staying in tiptop health.
Tip 1: Start making tiny adjustments to your daily routine now
Eat a nutritious diet with protein and critical nutrients like Vitamin D to reduce muscle loss. Try incorporating proteins such as chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans or dairy into your diet, and aim for about 25-30 grams of protein per meal.
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Tip 2: Move more
Anything as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift or simply getting up from your chair more often to take a walk can help to improve your muscle health. Also, now that more people are working from home and possibly moving less, try doing simple leg lifts, arm raises, and bicep curls from your desk to help flex those muscles. When done regularly, it can help to build up muscles.
Please find out your muscle age with the Muscle Age Calculator, a tool developed by Abbott as part of its Stand4Strength initiative to encourage people to take action and care for their muscle health.
Tip 3: Incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine
An ideal exercise plan includes both aerobic (walking) and resistance or strength training. Start with low-intensity workouts such as lunges, squats, pushups, and one-leg stands to gradually get your muscles accustomed to increased physical activity. These may be done with or without weights. Otherwise, daily activities like walking or carrying grocery bags are also beneficial.
As you exercise, ensure to stay within a range of motion and pace that your body is comfortable with. Remember to rest your muscles between strength training sessions for a minimum of 48 hours to avoid overexertion and muscle soreness.
Tip 4: Include these seven key nutrients
Proper nutrients can help build muscle mass & strengthen immunity. Include these seven essential nutrients in your daily diet. Based on Jacobs's tips, Yahoo Shopping picked out some supplements so you won't need to trawl the Internet to find the right items. Of course, these supplements are either bestsellers, highly reviewed or having special sales on iHerb.
A macronutrient is needed to produce immune system cells and antibodies found in food like meat, fish, beans, tofu, eggs and legumes.
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It helps build healthy skin that forms the barrier for microorganisms. Good sources are broccoli, bell peppers and citrus fruits.
It helps to regulate the immune system and can be found in foods like eggs, fish and spinach.
A powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals that may damage immune system cells, and can be found in almonds, vegetable oils and sunflower seeds.
It helps to activate and regulate immune system cells. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks and nuts.
It supports synthesising new immune cells that help respond to infections and illnesses. Zinc can be found in beans, shellfish and nuts.
Known to reduce inflammation and keep the immune system in check. Omega 3 Fatty Acids can be found in foods like walnuts, chia seeds and fatty fish.
Tip 5: Supplement your diet with high-quality protein HMB
HMB, also known as beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate, has been extensively researched and found to slow muscle breakdown and support muscle tissue building. Found in small amounts in our body and selected foods like avocado and cauliflower, it may be challenging to obtain HMB through food alone, especially since HMB levels in our body decline with age. Instead, consider supplementing your diet with oral nutritional supplements containing HMB and high-quality protein, like Ensure, which help build and maintain muscle mass.
*As revealed in the findings of the SHIELD (Strengthening Health In Elderly Through Nutrition) research that Abbott is conducting with Changi General Hospital and SingHealth Polyclinics.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider on queries regarding a medical condition. Any action taken by you in reliance on or in connection with this content is solely at your own risk.