Muscle Mass and Longevity
More muscle mass = longer life
Have you missed me? I’m hoping you noticed my absence over the last two weeks, I am usually super active on Twitter and Instagram however I am down under in Australia seeing family and sitting board exams for intraoperative neurophysiology. Part of this process is doing practical, verbal and written exams which can last up to 8 hours per exam which is why my brain needed to focus.
BUT NOW I’M BACK!!! I’ll be heading back to my favourite city in the world, NYC in a week (with a short stop in LA to catch another Dodgers game).
Enough about me 😜 Let’s get to work.
I recently interviewed Layne Norton on my podcast and in this 1 hour and 50 minute episode, my mind was blown. We touched on everything from muscle protein synthesis, fat loss, calories, scientific integrity and longevity and I wanted to share what I learnt with you. So in today’s newsletter we’re going to go over muscle mass and longevity
By the end of the newsletter I’m sure you will all be running to the weights room!
To get a sneak peak into this topic, check out the Instagram reel I did on this topic we get into the newsletter!
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Muscle Mass and all-cause mortality
Skeletal muscle refers to any muscle group that can be controlled voluntarily. It is one of our largest organs, making up about 40% of our body composition. However, as we age, we begin losing skeletal muscles progressively, a condition referred to as sarcopenia. This, in turn, is associated with decreased metabolic rate, decreased strength, increased risk of falls and fractures, and increased morbidity, which seem to explain some of the current statistics we are seeing. For example, in the U.S.,
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 and older.
For the same age group, the leading causes of disease-related deaths include heart disease, cancer, Covid-19, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
One in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture.
41.5% of adults aged 60 and older are obese.
The Roles Of Skeletal Muscles In Health And Disease
In addition to its role in locomotion and posture, which can help prevent serious damage from falls, the skeletal muscle also serves as an amino acid reserve and a major site for glucose disposal, thus, playing a role in preventing chronic metabolic diseases.
Skeletal Muscle As A Cushion For Falls
The severity of a fall is affected by factors like the direction of the fall, which determines which part of the body hits a surface, and the impact of the fall (e.g., how hard the specific part of the body hits the surface).
Muscle power and strength can reduce the severity of the fall through balance recovery (e.g., regaining balance after a slip) and developing a protective response during a fall (e.g., grabbing hold of something to prevent or reduce the impact of the fall).
Skeletal Muscle As An Amino Acid Reservoir
Proteins are imperative for cell functions in the human body. From making new cells, and repairing damaged cells to eliminating those that are beyond repair, all these processes require the use of proteins, or more specifically, amino acids.
The skeletal muscle contains 50-75% of all proteins in the human body, making it the major amino acid reserve. A bigger reserve is important because when the body is in a stressed state, such as that associated with advanced cancer, traumatic injury, and sepsis, there is a greater demand for amino acids from the muscle to cope with the disease.
One study found that relative to those with sarcopenia, non-small cell lung cancer patients without sarcopenia responded better to the cancer treatment (40% vs. 9.1%) and had a higher rate of 1-year progression-free survival (38.1% vs. 10.1%). Furthermore, a study during the pandemic found that Covid-19 patients with a higher muscle mass and strength had shorter hospital stay compared to those with lower muscle mass and strength (8 days vs 10 days).
These studies suggest that the skeletal muscle acts as a buffer for fuel and substrates that can be used to repair damage in the body and feed the immune system.
Skeletal Muscle Is The Major Site Of Glucose Disposal
Under normal conditions, ~80% of the glucose uptake occurs in the skeletal muscles, of which, 3-8% of the skeletal muscle volume is comprised of mitochondria — cells that use glucose to produce energy.
One study found that a 10% increase in skeletal muscle is associated with an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% drop in the risk of transitional, prediabetes, or overt diabetes. Furthermore, more muscle mass results in high energy expenditure due to protein turnover, which helps reduce the risk of obesity.
Since obesity and insulin resistance are associated with the development of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, increasing muscle mass will then decrease the risk of developing these diseases and improve longevity.
Skeletal Muscle Is Essential For Longevity
The involvement of skeletal muscles in both physical and metabolic architecture implies that maintaining adequate muscle mass throughout life is essential to quality longevity. Although skeletal muscles generally begin to decrease at the age of 30, fortunately, muscle-protein synthesis can be stimulated through a high protein diet and resistance training, regardless of age.
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Until next time,