The lack of muscle tone in old age can compromise motor functionality even in many daily activities. An active 80-year-old may fare better than a sedentary 50-year-old
L’aging of the human body leads to a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength. A process that begins around 50 years old and causes a reduction of a quarter of the volume of our muscles up to 70 years old and to an even more accelerated decline in the following years.
When does sarcopenia start?
When this condition exceeds the physiological threshold we speak of sarcopenia. A syndrome affecting about the 10 percent of the elderly population and is defined with specific testsfor example by measuring the circumference of the calf, the grip strength of the hand, the time taken to get up and sit down five times from the chair without the help of the arms and the time to walk 400 meters explains Francesco Landi, director of the Department of Aging, Orthopedic and Rheumatological Sciences of the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome. Sarcopenia compromises inevitably the person’s motor functionality, which will make it more difficult to carry out normal daily activities.
Four times higher risk of falls
To such an extent that the risk of falls (and therefore of fractures) increases by almost doubleis to develop a disability of three times and the likelihood of die almost four times higher than that of an elderly person with adequate muscle quality. Physical exercise from an early age remains the most effective prevention tool against sarcopenia in old age. The tone of the muscle fibers obtained thanks to sport allows, in fact, to compensate for the natural decline in muscle mass – observes Landi -. Studies show that an 80-year-old person who practices physical activity at least twice a week for half an hour has the same physical performance as a sedentary 50-year-old. Older people should carry out at least 150-300 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (ie resistance exercises that train the heart and lungs, such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming) or at least 75-150 minutes at a more vigorous intensity.
What to eat if you have sarcopenia?
At the same time, to promote muscle growth and maintenance, it is essential to take in diet an adequate amount of protein (of which muscles are mainly made up). Even those of animal origin – underlines the geriatrician -. From a 2017 study that we conducted on over 1,800 subjects between 18 and 98 years old, it emerged that those who consume at least 30 grams of protein per day from animal sources, therefore from meat, fish, eggs, milk and derivativeshas greater muscle mass and strength than those who consume a smaller amount.
Meat is to be eaten
As we get older we tend to eat less meat. For chewing and swallowing problems, for lack of appetite and also for economic reasons. But meat should not be demonized – says Landi -. It should be consumed twice a week in all periods of life. Meat, recalls Mariangela Rondanelli, head of metabolic rehabilitation at the Pavia personal services company and professor of dietetic sciences and techniques at the Pavia university, in particular contains essential amino acids, among which the most important for muscle health is leucine. rich in vitamin B12, which our body is unable to synthesize and contributes to the formation of red blood cells, the functioning of the nervous system and energy metabolism. There are two molecules, the carnitine and creatine, which together with conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, help muscle synthesis. Rondanelli suggests up to five portions of meat per week. Three of white meat, one of salami and one of red meat. For an intake of about 30 grams of protein at a time, contained in 113 grams of raw weight meat. This is the optimal amount recommended for preventing and treating sarcopenia in the elderly according to a review of the scientific literature.
A good diet for muscles must include fish too. They are recommended three doses a week from 150 grams to raw weight, equal to 30 grams of protein – concludes the expert -. In all three main meals of the day, a protein quota should be introduced, on average 20 grams for young people and adults, slightly higher for the elderly, 25-30 grams, having a slower protein metabolism.
May 28, 2023 (change May 28, 2023 | 2:19 pm)
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