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Whether due to age, illness, or some other cause, muscle wastage is a serious health issue that affects many people around the world. While it may not seem as severe or life-threatening as some other conditions, the loss of muscle mass can complicate or worsen another underlying condition or greatly reduce a person’s overall quality of life, especially when it occurs in an elderly individual. Because muscle wastage is typically associated with the unavoidable reality of aging, many of those suffering from it believe that there isn’t much they can do about the problem, but the truth is very much the opposite. If you or someone you know has been wondering, “Can muscle wastage be reversed?” keep reading as the experts at ENU – makers of protein shakes for seniors – discuss this important topic.
What Causes Muscle Wastage?
As with many health problems, muscle wastage can often only be addressed once you have an idea of what’s causing it. In some cases, this loss of muscle is due to the natural biological changes people go through as they get older, while others suffer from muscle wastage because of a serious illness. We’ll look at both possibilities below:
Though it’s undoubtedly problematic, muscle wastage is also an entirely natural part of the aging process for many – if not most – older adults. Some experts blame sarcopenia on hormonal changes as we get older, while others point to chronic inflammation or an improper diet as the culprit. In any case, the loss of muscle mass as we age – a condition called sarcopenia – is a type of muscle wastage that can absolutely be reversed, so if you or a loved one has been affected by sarcopenia, read on to learn how to combat this insidious ailment.
The more severe type of muscle wastage people can experience is called cachexia, and it occurs in those battling serious illnesses, such as cancer. While some doctors believe that a lack of proper nutrition for cancer patients and others is the reason for cachexia’s appearance, the truth is that this ailment is often very difficult, if not impossible, to stop, let alone reverse. That said, it’s certainly worth asking your physician whether your muscle wastage can be addressed through some of the methods outlined below.
How to Reverse Muscle Wastage
If you’re suffering from a loss of muscle mass due to an illness, aging, or lack of physical activity, improving your diet and establishing an exercise routine may provide a way to undo those effects and win back some of the muscle tissue you lost.
Fighting Muscle Wastage with Protein
Any experienced bodybuilder can tell you about the importance of protein shakes for athletes and others looking to bulk up, but that same macronutrient can be equally effective for seniors and those with muscle wastage caused by illness. Not only do the amino acids in protein help to stimulate new muscle production, but consuming more protein can also help to protect the muscle mass you still have.
A significant majority of seniors don’t get enough protein in their diet, according to experts; the recommended intake for adults in general is about a third of a gram per pound of body weight, but seniors should aim for a bit more than that, especially if they have to contend with muscle wastage. If you struggle to get enough protein-rich foods in your diet, ask your doctor about adding a high-protein meal replacement shake to your routine, as they can be effective tools for helping with muscle growth and repair.
Look for easily digestible sources of protein like whey, which offers all nine essential amino acids and is gentle on your digestive system. That said, even loading up on whey protein won’t be enough to reverse muscle wastage if it’s not done in conjunction with a safe and effective exercise routine.
Although strength training may sound like something that should be avoided once you reach old age, this type of exercise can actually be hugely beneficial for those battling muscle wastage. Simply by using your muscles, you can slow or halt the progress of sarcopenia, but to reverse it and start gaining back lost muscle, you’ll need to lift some weights.
Research suggests that even 70- or 80-year-old adults can be helped with strength training – in particular, a type called progressive resistance training. Using this method, you’ll start out using nothing more than your body weight or a very low amount of added weight and work your way up over time to lift more and more.
Resistance training is particularly effective because it causes your body’s natural muscle cell protection process to kick into high gear. Adding an efficient source of protein to the mix – whey, for example – can further boost this process by providing the amino acid leucine, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis.
Try an ENU Protein Shake to Fight Muscle Wastage and Build Strength
With so many protein and meal replacement shakes out there, it can be tough the find the best one to help reverse muscle wastage. ENU shakes offer 20 grams of protein from whey and soy, plus healthy fats and carbs along with more than 20 important vitamins and minerals. If a nutrition shake isn’t to your liking, we also offer the protein-rich Pro3+ nutritional powder, which can be easily added to a variety of drinks and foods for extra protein. Learn more about the benefits of ENU shakes and powders by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.