There’s been a big shift in the importance we place on building and preserving muscle mass. Many recent studies report that muscle mass is a strong indicator of overall health and longevity. Let’s look at how muscle serves as the organ of longevity and how we can preserve and support muscle growth.
Muscles not only help you to move and perform physical activities, but they’re also responsible for pumping blood throughout your body and helping you breathe. But did you know that low skeletal muscle mass is linked to metabolic diseases? These diseases include diabetes, liver and cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, your skeletal muscle mass influences your overall health and reflects your present health status. Skeletal muscle mass may also be a biological marker of health risks.
Why? Skeletal muscle mass loss is inevitable as we age and happens to be one of the largest endocrine and paracrine organs in our body. Its physical activity and cellular products interact with or support the functions of many organs and tissues, including the liver, adipose tissue, pancreas, bone and the cardiovascular and respiratory system. Likewise, many vitamins and minerals, and cellular products made by other organs interact with and support skeletal muscle function. Therefore, skeletal muscle mass may influence your overall health and reflects your present health and health risks.
When it comes to assessing overall health and longevity, our quality of muscle is just as important as the quantity of muscle a person has. That’s because one of the biggest factors in age related diseases stems from the body’s ability to produce ATP (also known as oxidative phosphorylation). ATP is the fuel for all cellular functions, including muscle cell activity and the ability for muscle cells to produce sufficient ATP for all its daily activities is a reflection of the health of your muscles.
If you’re interested in the scientific breakdown of this process, know that mitochondria (organelles found in cells that provide energy for muscle function) are heavily involved in how our body ages, cancer, age-related neurodegenerative diseases and of course, metabolic syndrome. So how does this all relate back to muscle?
Muscle mass is generally a good indicator of mitochondrial efficiency. That’s because more muscle mass is associated with more efficient and dense mitochondria. We can also assume that this person is working our regularly and eating a structured diet (which is very important to mitochondrial health) that allows them to maintain muscle mass.
Exercise provides a stimulus for mitochondrial function and muscle growth
Studies have shown just one HIIT session (high intensity interval training) can increase mitochondrial mass. Not only is exercise valuable in mitochondrial biogenesis in the body, but it also enhances mitochondrial function by adapting in response to exercise induced stress.
Alike muscle, you can repair mitochondria just as efficiently as they are broken down. This biogenesis and repair are dependant on factors like recovery, nutrition, and the intake of specific nutrients. Not using muscles efficiently due to inactivity of our muscles and muscle loss due to aging are both associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
For performance and recovery, we recommend utilizing activ-X which features essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega oils and adaptogens to increase staying power.
Prioritize protein intake
We’ve heard that protein serves as the building blocks of muscle, but let’s take that statement and get a little more specific. Not only are amino acids found in protein essential to muscle building, but they’re also needed for the structure and function of all organs in the body.
Increasing protein intake can have positive effects on blood sugar management, satiety and most importantly muscle growth and maintenance. Hitting daily intake requirements for protein is more important than timing when it comes to muscle growth. However, timing protein intake can affect things like digestion and performance. Amino acids from vegan and non-vegan sources are created equal. However, consuming enough protein sources with a full amino acid profile can be more challenging (not impossible) on a vegan diet.
To keep things simple, aim to have a palms size serving of protein at each meal.
Specific vitamins and minerals to consider
Specific nutrients that are beneficial to mitochondrial health include Omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Vitamins A, C, E, S + Zinc (antioxidants), Magnesium and B-vitamins (particularly B3). These nutrients serve as cofactors for enzymatic activity, protect against oxidative stress, support our internal antioxidant systems and protect mitochondrial membranes. A multivitamin from Platinum Naturals such as Super Easymulti 45 + contain an anti aging formulation that provides all the vitamins and minerals listed above plus more.
When in doubt consume a variety of leafy greens (kale, spinach, bok choy) nuts (almonds, brazil nuts) and pumpkin seeds as these foods are packed with a variety of nutrients needed for whole body health.
The big takeaway here is that our body’s ability to build and maintain muscle serves as a strong indicator of overall health. Moving away from the old mentality that fat loss is the key to longevity should be changed and instead, strength, muscle and recovery should be the goal to achieve a better quality of life. This is seen both in the effects muscle and strength has on our lifestyle and the effects it has at the cellular level.
- Skeletal Muscle and Metabolic Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7090295/
- Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Metabolic Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423868/
- Exercise and Mitochondrial Function: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23788574/